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Flu shots available from county health department

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By Jimmie Earls

The dreaded flu bug. It seems like it’s everywhere, and chances are good that you’ll run into it some time this year. But the first line of defense against the nasty virus is to get your annual flu shot.

The Washington County Health Department has been administering the vaccine for a couple of weeks and has already given around 300 doses, which according to Rod Mattingly, a community health educator for the Washington County Health Department, is a conservative estimate.

“It’s important for older people or those with compromised immune systems to get their flu shot early,” he said.

Even though you receive an annual flu shot, precautions are still necessary to avoid the bug. Everyone is urged to wash their hands frequently and avoid contact with their faces after touching public surfaces such as shopping cart handles, shared food utensils and door knobs.

Another bug of concern is the H1N1 virus. Although the vaccine is not available in the county yet, Mattingly said it should be available some time in October.

“From what we’re hearing, we’re supposed to be receiving the H1N1 vaccine in mid-October,” said Wendy Keown, public information officer for the Lincoln Trail District Health Department. “”Once we get the vaccine, it will be given in priority groups until it becomes more abundant. Priority goes to pregnant women, health care workers and first responders because they see patients face-to-face, children aged six months to 24 years and those who have a weakened immune system because they are at a higher risk.”

The federal government is providing the vaccine at no cost to Lincoln Trail, but the district is allowed to charge an administrative fee. Keown did not have details on the cost of the H1N1 vaccine for patients.

Anyone interested in getting a flu shot may do so by making an appointment with the Washington County Health Department by calling (859) 336-3989. Cost for the shot is $23 and is covered by both Medicare A and B. Those with private insurance should contact the health department to see if their insurance covers the cost.

See the complete story in this week's print edition of The Springfield Sun!