The Woodward News

December 2, 2012

Public encouraged to get flu vaccinations

Gary Engel
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — If you've been putting off a flu shot, the Woodward County Health Department encourages getting one during National Influenza Vaccination Week, Dec. 2-8.

"Many people are at risk from complications caused by the flu and that's why the vaccination is recommended for everyone 6-months of age and older," said Terri Salisbury, administrative director of the Woodward County Health Department. "The flu can cause serious illness, or even death, so it's better to protect yourself and loved ones by getting the vaccination."

Flu shots are available at the health department, with Mondays set aside as vaccination days, where clients do not need to make an appointment to get their inoculation.

The Health Department clinic is open from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., but is closed for lunch from noon to 1 p.m.

Salisbury said while the flu can make anyone sick, there are certain people who are at greater risk of suffering serious complications from the illness.

These high-risk individuals are especially encouraged to get vaccinated, including:

- Persons at least 50 years old.

- Those with a chronic lung disease, like asthma and COPD.

- Type I and II diabetics.

- Persons with heart disease.

- Sufferers of neurological problems, and other long-term health conditions.

- Pregnant women.



SURVEY SHOWS HEALTH PROVIDERS FALLING SHORT ON GETTING SHOTS

Shawna Elwood, the health department's vaccination specialist, said health care workers are another group that should make sure they have their flu shots.

"People who are taking care of others should be immunized," Elwood said.

This is because health care workers are often at centers or in homes where there are patients who are at high risk of getting complications or dying from the flu, Salisbury said.

However, she said the Centers for Disease Control conducted research and found just 52 percent of health care workers in long-term care facilities got a flu shot last year.

She said this is troubling since health care workers can spread the virus before they know they are even sick, because of the incubation period.

That's why Salisbury, too, encouraged all health care workers to get the vaccine.

Elwood said the health department is committed to doing its part to cut down on the spread of the flu, as each of its employees has been vaccinated.



SOME FEE WAIVERS AVAILABLE FOR SHOTS

The health department does charge a fee for flu shots, but also offers to waive that fee for certain patients, including:

- Seniors over age 65, including for those on Medicare and don't belong to an HMO.

- Clients on SoonerCare.

- Children who are qualified for the Vaccines for Children program.

- Persons who meet income requirements.

- Those who are enrolled in HealthChoice and the Oklahoma Public Employees Health and Welfare insurance programs.

For more information about the fee amount and waivers, contact the Woodward County Health Department at (580) 256-6416.

In addition to the health department, several pharmacies in the area also offer flu shots.  Contact your preferred pharmacy for details.