Flu Shots Provide Protection

by Miranda Reynolds
Delta Digital News Service

MCCRORY, Arkansas – Doctors strongly encourage Arkansans get the flu shot to ensure their health and the health of their families.

The time for flu shots in Arkansas approaches rapidly as winter draws near. Getting an annual flu shot better protects one’s health and deters the possibility of spreading the illness to others.

Melissa Alumbaugh, advanced practice registered nurse with ARcare, said getting the flu shot decreases the risk of getting the flu. If you do get the flu, it is likely the symptoms would not be as severe. She said some older generations believe the myth that getting the flu shot gave them the flu, as patients were once vaccinated with a live strand of the influenza virus. This caused older generations to believe the myth.

The Youth

The McCrory region expects to receive flu shots at the end of October. For McCrory High School and McCrory Elementary School, this will be a busy time.

Amanda Brewer, nurse at McCrory public schools, said the Arkansas Department of Health will administer the flu shots to the students.

Brewer decides school procedure for dealing with sick students. She evaluates the student’s illness and checks for a high fever. If the student is suspected of the flu, the parents are contacted and advised to get the child a flu test by a local doctor. If parents cannot pay for testing, there are other methods of payment services available. Brewer said she recommends those who cannot afford a flu test to ask for payment assistance.

Alumbaugh said the flu shot affects everyone differently. Size, weight and how staff distribute the shot play a role. The way people absorb the shot along with exposures in their surrounding environment also play a role.

“The healthy should avoid the sick, practice good handwashing and quarantine those sick family members to help stop spreading the flu virus,” Alumbaugh said.

Alumbaugh said she advises getting flu shots in October since it takes 14 days for the vaccine to be active.

Public’s Impact

Experts anticipate the projected strain of the flu virus by the previous year’s flu virus. Alumbaugh said multiple strains of the flu exist and experts find it difficult to predict exactly what strain will be the most effective.

The flu shots Arkansans receive cover three to four different types of strains predicted to hit the region. The ARcare clinic’s flu shot in McCrory will cover these basic flu shot types.

Alumbaugh said that if projections miss the exact strain, the clinic would not administer a second dosage of flu shots to the public. If a clinic runs out of flu shots, it cannot easily receive more. However, the clinic may receive more, depending on availability.

The Elderly

Latricia Milton, director of nursing at the Woodruff County Health Center, said, “Patients at the Woodruff County Health Center will receive a mandatory flu shot.”

The Woodruff County Health Center houses 96 residents who need help with everyday life. Facility directors mandate nurses and staff receive a flu shot as well. Milton said valid reasons for denial of the flu shot include being sick, having a fever or being allergic to eggs.

In cases where patients are not of sound mind, families determine if staff members administer the vaccine. Staff separates patients who contract the influenza virus from other roommates and the doctor is notified. Milton said the doctor of the patient then decides if they should start Tamiflu or other medications.

Treatments of outbreaks of influenza in the Woodruff County Health Center begin with testing of the original patient suspected of the flu, testing surrounding neighbors and keeping identified patients separated.

Alumbaugh said flu shots in Arkansas are very much a necessity for those wishing to avoid the flu.

“A lot of people are hospitalized every year for the flu. They’re very ill, and some of them end in death,” Alumbaugh said.

Alumbaugh said she encourages doing something that can prevent a hospital stay or death. Prepare for the flu season by getting your flu shot.

Editor’s Note: Featured photo by Patrica H [CC BY-SA 2.0]