Flu vaccine available at local health departments

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Vaccine also will be offered for free in schools starting in October

The Virginia Department of Health’s Mount Rogers Health District and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine each year as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease.

“Since flu viruses can change and new strains can emerge, the vaccine may not prevent all cases, but it is the best defense available against the disease, which can have serious complications, especially for the very young, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems,” says Karen Shelton, M.D., district health director.

“Some children need two doses of flu vaccine in order to be adequately protected,” she said. “Check with your child’s doctor or other health care professional each year to find out what your child needs.”

The flu virus is spread easily spread by coughing, sneezing and nasal secretions and is often transmitted via dirty surfaces and hands. The flu vaccine is especially important for children who share items and surfaces in schools and daycare facilities.

“Proper handwashing is the best technique for keeping flu from spreading. If you get sick, stay home from work or school until you recover. In addition, prescription antiviral medications may help treat the flu,” Shelton said.

The Mount Rogers Health District offers flu vaccine in all local health departments. “Walk-ins will be accepted, but it’s a good idea to call in for an appointment to avoid wait times,” said District Nurse Manager Tricia Vanhoy.

In October, the health district will offer free flu vaccine in all local public schools and encourages parents to take advantage of this opportunity to protect their children. Each school will send vaccine information, schedules and permission forms home to parents. Due to CDC guidance, the vaccine will only be available as an injection this year.

The health district also offers flu vaccine from a mobile medical unit. Businesses, industries, agencies or other large groups can call (276) 781-7450 or (276) 759-8297 to ask about a mobile vaccination clinic at your worksite or other location.

Call your local health department or healthcare provider to schedule an appointment for flu vaccine:

• Carroll County Health Department: (276) 730-3180

• Galax City Health Department: (276) 236-6127

• Grayson County Health Department: (276) 773-2961

When applicable, please have insurance, Medicare or Medicaid cards available.

For more information, visit vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/influenza-flu-in-virginia.