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Flu shots being prepped

Photo by Michael Kelly Public health nurse Becky Jones gives Angela Burnside a flu vaccine injection at the city of Marietta Health Department on Thursday afternoon. The department will begin offering flu immunizations Oct. 1, with a regular schedule of Monday and Tuesday clinics for drop-in patients.

The leading edge of flu season is nearing, and local clinics are stocking up on vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention each year tries to predict which strains of the influenza virus will strike Americans and orders vaccine supplies accordingly. This year’s quadrivalent vaccine is directed at defending patients against two strains of Influenza A and two strains of Influenza B.

“Every year when they create the vaccine, they try to get the strains most likely to hit. I wouldn’t say it’s a guessing game, but it’s not an exact science either,” Dr. Jeff Patey at the Quality Care Associates urgent care clinic at 416 Front St. said Thursday.

Flu season is normally from October to May. The clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, accepts private insurance and Medicare, and charges $35 for a flu shot to cash customers, he said.

Patey said cases already have been reported in Ohio this year, and several people have come into his clinic in the past week for immunizations.

“It’s a little concerning to have cases this early, and that leads me to believe it may be an early season,” he said. “I’m recommending people get them now.”

The timing of vaccinations can be important because immunity gradually deteriorates over the flu season, said city of Marietta Health Department director of nursing Beth Casto. The season last year, for example, was late, with cases spiking in April.

The city health department, on the second floor of the annex at 304 Putnam St., will begin offering flu shots Oct. 1 and continue every Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., staying open later – until 6:30 p.m. – the first Monday of every month. The clinic is on a drop-in basis and accepts private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, she said. Cash customers are charged $20.

Casto said the city nursing staff also conducts on-site clinics for businesses, churches and other organizations.

Flu shots also are available from the department in Belpre at the city building from 8 a.m. to noon on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month, she said

Last flu season, the city administered 1,352 doses of flu vaccine, including patients in Marietta and Belpre. Under the state’s Vaccines for Children program, she said, free flu shots are available for children whose families can’t afford the cost.

Casto said a product called FluBlok is available for anyone who has an allergy to eggs, which are the medium used to cultivate some vaccines.

The Washington County Health Department offers immunizations at its offices, 342 Muskingum Drive, from 1 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays. The department is offering a drive-through flu shot clinic from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Reno business park and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 14 at the department offices.

Flu shots also are available at most pharmacies and urgent care clinics in the city.

Michael Kelly can be contacted at mkelly@mariettatimes.com

Flu shots

• Shots are available at most Marietta urgent care clinics and pharmacies.

• Starting Oct. 1, the city of Marietta Health Department will offer flu vaccine at its regular immunization clinics Mondays and Tuesdays, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., open later – until 6:30 p.m.- on the first Monday of the month; at the Belpre city building on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month from 8 a.m. to noon.

• The Washington County Health Department will hold drive-thru flu clinics at the Reno Business Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 1 and at the health department offices, 342 Muskingum Drive, Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Regular immunization clinic hours are 1 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m Fridays.

Sources: Marietta city and Washington County health departments, Times research.

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