October 23, 2013 Edition

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Mass flu clinic set in WR

The Arkansas Department of Health is providing flu vaccine for mass flu clinics throughout the state, including Lawrence County. The local clinic will be held on Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Lawrence County Health Unit, located at 1050 West Free Street in Walnut Ridge.

While there is little flu activity right now, it is expected to increase in the coming weeks and months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months old and older get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine protects against flu viruses that research indicates will cause the most illness during the upcoming season.

Flu is a sickness that infects the nose, throat and lungs and is caused by the influenza virus. If you're young and healthy, the flu vaccine should be 60 to 90 percent effective in preventing illness.

"Getting an annual flu vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family against the flu," Dr. Nate Smith, state health officer and ADH director, said.

Certain people are at greater risk for serious complications if they get the flu. This includes older people, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), and people who live in facilities like nursing homes.

The ADH will ask insurance companies to pay for the cost of giving the vaccine at the clinic. Individuals are asked to bring their insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or ARKids cards with them so that the ADH can file with the insurance company. For those who don't have insurance or whose insurance company does not pay for vaccines, the vaccine will be available at no charge.

Children eight years and younger may need a second dose of vaccine for full protection. A health care provider can help determine if the second dose is needed. Parents will need to contact a local ADH health unit or health care provider to see if vaccine is available and take their children in for a second dose four weeks after the first vaccination.

For more information, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov or www.flu.gov.

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