The 2019 Newton County Mass Flu Vaccination Clinic will be Tuesday, Sept. 24, announced Newton County Health Unit Manager Erika Houston during last Thursday's Local Emergency Planning Committee meeting held at the Jasper Baptist Church fellowship hall.

This year's clinic will be a drive-through affair and it will be held at the Newton County Fairgrounds, Houston said. The fairgrounds is one of three dispensary pods designated in the county's emergency planning protocols. The other two being the health unit and the Jasper Fire Department's fire station in Jasper.

The clinic will be conducted from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24.

Each county health unit in Arkansas will be hosting a mass 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. 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 be available at no charge.

Houston said even though this will be a drive-through clinic where people can receive the vaccine without leaving their vehicle, there will be an area set up inside one of the buildings where people can go and receive their shot.

Since the health unit staff will be working at the clinic, the health unit on West Court Street in Jasper will not be able to provide other health department services that day. There will be staff available to answer phones and provide information to visitors who drop by, Houston said.

The health unit has also scheduled days to deliver and administer flu vaccine at the four public schools in the county. Local residents as well as school staff and students are encouraged to receive the vaccine.

Dates for those school clinics are as follows: Jasper School, Tuesday, Oct. 1; Western Grove School, Friday, Oct. 4; Deer School, Tuesday, Oct. 8 and Mt. Judea School, Wednesday, Oct. 9.

The Arkansas Department of Health says it is important to get a flu vaccine every year, because the flu virus changes from year to year. This year’s vaccine protects against the flu viruses that are 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. People with allergies to vaccine ingredients can often receive the vaccine safely, if it is given in a doctor’s office where they can be monitored.

The flu is easily spread through coughing or sneezing and by touching something, such as a door knob, 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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