"The clinic is designed as, No. 1, a way to administer as many flu vaccinations to the citizens of Bartow County as possible, as quickly as possible and as soon as possible this flu season," said Logan Boss, public information officer for Northwest Georgia Public Health. "The second important aspect about holding a flu clinic is it gives the public health personnel and their community partners in Bartow County that we've worked and trained with all the time additional experience in administering large amounts of medicine in an emergency and that's for emergency preparedness. We could just simply say, 'Hey, come by the health department and get your flu shot' but we do it as a clinic for those two reasons.
"This year, everybody 6 months and older should get the flu vaccine and that includes pregnant women. The only people that cannot receive flu shots really are children younger than 6 months of age. We always encourage pregnant women to get the flu shot because it will wrap the unborn or the newly born baby with that same protection that people get from getting the actual shot. ... Getting a flu shot is really the best way to prevent yourself or your loved ones from getting the flu and also it helps prevent it [from being] spread to other people."
Among the individuals at highest risk for contracting flu-related complications are infants, the elderly, pregnant women and people with depressed immune systems. While flu season can be unpredictable, it typically spans October to March, peaking in Georgia in early to mid-February. Once vaccinated, the shots will take affect two weeks later and provide sound protection against the contagious respiratory illness through spring, Boss said.
No appointments will be required for the health department's flu shot clinic, which will provide two types of vaccinations: a traditional injection or a children's flu mist -- limited in supply -- for ages 2 to 18. Costing $20 each, the vaccinations can be paid for by various methods, including check, cash, credit card or Medicare, WellCare, Medicaid, Peach State, Amerigroup, Cigna and State Employee United Healthcare.
"Everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine as soon as possible this year and we expect to have plenty of flu vaccine available this year, don't anticipate any shortages. ... There's more places than ever to get it," Boss said. "It's available now in the community, of course, at the health department and at other locations, including your private physician. So go ahead and get a flu shot now, as soon as possible. It's not too early and you will have protection throughout this year's entire flu season."
The Bartow County Health Department also will be conducting flu clinics at area schools this fall.
"For the second year in a row, we will provide -- at no cost -- both regular flu shots and Flumist nasal spray to school-aged children," Bartow County Health Department Nurse Manager Cathy Green said in a news release. "Parents should expect a letter from the school soon offering them the opportunity to have their child receive the free, voluntary nasal spray or the traditional flu shot at school.
"Parents must return the letter requesting a questionnaire, a consent form and additional information on the flu vaccine in order for their child to receive the free vaccination. Parents must then return the completed questionnaire and signed consent form."
For more information about influenza or flu vaccination, call the Bartow County Health Department at 770-382-1920 or visit www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/.