The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) will be providing flu vaccines across the state in preparation for the 2020-21 flu season starting Monday, September 27. Each county health unit in Arkansas will be hosting a community flu vaccine clinic, which is typically a day-long event when the health unit and numerous community volunteers come together to provide flu vaccine to as many people as possible.

The shot is available at no charge. People should bring their insurance cards with them to the flu vaccine clinic. If anyone does not have insurance, or the insurance does not cover flu vaccine, the vaccine will still be available at no charge. Please contact the nearest local health unit for information about community flu vaccine clinics. Local health unit contact information can be found at www.healthy.arkansas.gov.

The flu should not be taken lightly,” said Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, Chief Medical Officer. “We are encouraging everyone to get a flu vaccine to protect themselves and their families, because it is hard to predict in advance how severe the flu season is going to be. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important to keep yourself healthy and out of the hospital.”

Annual flu vaccination is recommended for most adults and children six months and older. The flu virus changes from year to year, and this year’s vaccine protects against flu viruses expected to cause the most illness this flu season.

People of all ages can get the flu. Certain people are more likely to have serious health problems if they get the flu. This includes older adults, young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), people who smoke, and people who live in nursing homes. Therefore, ADH strongly recommends that people in these groups get a flu vaccine. It is also recommended that friends, family members and people who provide care to people in these groups also get a vaccine – not only to protect themselves, but also to decrease the possibility that they might expose the people they love and care for to the flu.

The flu vaccine is safe and does not cause the flu. Some people may have mild soreness and redness near the site of the shot and a low fever or slight headache. There are very few medical reasons to skip the flu vaccine. These include life-threatening allergic reactions to a previous dose of the flu vaccine or an ingredient in the vaccine.

The flu is easily spread through coughing or sneezing and by touching something, such as a doorknob, with the virus on it and then touching their nose or mouth. Good hand washing habits are important in preventing the flu; however, the best way to prevent the flu is to get the vaccine.

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