Despite the weather, the Rogers County Health Department helped 250 people get prepared for the flu season with a no out-of-pocket cost flu shot.
Flu clinic visitors with health insurance had the cost of their shot billed to their insurance while those who were uninsured received the shot for free.
Oklahoma Health Department Regional Director Maria Alexander oversaw the operation.
“We never know how the flu season is going to be, although already we have had cases of flu in the state,” Alexander said. “The protection of the flu vaccine helps to prevent more serious illness.”
“Any type of protection, particularly if you are very young, very old, or caring for someone who is very young or very old, is a good thing,” Alexander said. “We just want our population to be protected.”
Thus far, Oklahoma State Department of Health spokesman Tony Sellars said Oklahoma’s flu numbers aren’t out of the ordinary from what officials usually see.
He said officials will not know how severe flu season is until around January 2020. Flu season runs from October until April, but usually peaks between December and February.
“The optimum time for protection is ideally in October, so that they can be protected during the height of the flu season,” Alexander said.
It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to take effect, so most health care providers are urging people to get inoculated now.
“Even if you get the flu, having the vaccine and the extra protection is going to lessen your symptoms,” Sellars said.
The ”Protect the Herd,” clinic was sponsored by Chic-fil-A and the Claremore Expo Center. Student nurses from Rogers State University volunteered to help administer the shots.
“It’s not just a public health initiative, but it’s partners in the community coming together to make sure people are safe,” Alexander said.
The flu clinic also served as a test run of the state health department’s emergency response system.
“This location is one of our points of distribution,” Alexander said, for statewide distribution of immunizations or pills to prevent the spread of disease in an extreme emergency situation. “We want to be able to test periodically how we would conduct that type of a response.”
For Rogers County residents who missed the clinic, no out-of-pocket cost vaccines will be available throughout the flu season, while supplies last, by calling the Rogers County Health Department and scheduling an appointment. Regular and high-dose flu vaccines are available, though vaccine mist for children is not available this year.