Flu clinic for Benton, Saline employees | Health
BENTON, AR – The Arkansas Department of Health will be giving flu shots to City of Benton and Saline County employees from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, October 11, in the county’s OEM/911 Building.
The influenza vaccine, also known the flu shot, is an annual vaccine to protect against the highly variable influenza virus. The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga., says the vaccination is the most effective method for preventing influenza virus infection and its potentially severe complications.
Seasonal influenza causes more than 200,000 hospitalizations and 41,000 deaths in the U.S. every year, said Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan, who organized the flu shot clinic.
“City and county employees work with many members of the public each day handling documents and shaking hands. This is an ideal situation for spreading the flu virus,” Milligan said. “I worked with the Health Department to set up the vaccination clinic to help protect city and county employees from getting and spreading the flu. We don’t want these employees catching or spreading the flu.”
This year, the first recorded case of the seasonal flu in Arkansas was recorded in October. The first major outbreak of flu ever recorded was in 1580. Perhaps the best known outbreak was the Spanish Flu of 1918-20 that killed between 20 and 40 million people world-wide. After that outbreak, scientist began working on a vaccine. After a vaccine was developed, the number of people who died from flu decreased dramatically.
In 1957-58, there was an outbreak of Asian Flu that killed between 1-1.5 million people world-wide. The Hong Kong Flu killed just under a million people in 1968-69.
“History has shown us that the flu shot greatly reduces the number of people who are infected with the flu and who die from the flu. I thought it important enough work to make sure city and county employees had a chance to get a flu shot this year. In most cases, insurance will cover the cost of the vaccine,” Milligan said.
The influenza virus mutates each year so an annual flu shot is required to be protected from the latest strain of the virus. The flu shot is an inactivated vaccine which contains killed virus. It is usually given with a needle in the arm.
The CDC recommends people get their seasonal flu vaccine before December because the timing ensures that protective antibodies are in place before flu activity is typically at its highest. The three most likely months to catch the flu are December, January and February. The spread of flu can start as early as October and last until May.
Along with a flu shot, there are other things people can do to prevent the spread of influenza.
“Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too. If possible, stay home from work, school or running errands when you are sick,” Milligan said. “Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or handkerchief when coughing or sneezing. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.”
For people who don’t get the flu shot and contract the virus, there are antiviral drugs available such as Tamiflu that will reduce the severity and length of the illness. These drugs require a doctor’s prescription.