Flu season approacheth-and those wanting to avoid this year's strains of the flu bug have several options for getting their flu shots in Washington County.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has identified three flu strains which are most likely to cause sickness this year: an H1N1-like virus, an H3N2-like virus and a flu virus similar to the one in 2010.
"The FDA did change one of the flu strains in the flu shot, but the H1N1 protection is still there," said Cindy Hintz, registered nurse at the Washington County Health Department.
Area experts said they have not heard predictions about the severity of the coming flu season.
"We're just trying to prepare everyone to help minimize the effect on people as much as we can," said Margene Brown, a registered nurse in employee health at Marietta Memorial Hospital.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu shot.
It's recommended everyone 6 months of age and older get the flu vaccine. Seasonal flu vaccines have a very good safety track record.
The flu vaccine is available by shot or nasal spray.
It is especially important to get the vaccine if you, someone you live with or someone you care for is at high risk of complications from the flu.
Mild reactions such as soreness, headaches and fever are common side effects of the flu vaccine.
If you experience a severe reaction such as difficulty breathing, hives or facial swelling, seek medical attention immediately.
If you go
The Washington County Health Department is offering several walk-in flu shot clinics throughout the county:
11 a.m. to noon Tuesday at the New Matamoras Senior Center.
10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Oct. 9 at the Belpre Senior Center.
8:30 to 10 a.m. Oct. 16 at the Churchtown Senior Center.
11 a.m. to noon Oct. 16 at the Layman Senior Center.
"Every year, flu shots are important so we can minimize the impact not only on individuals but on the community," Brown said.
Children, especially infants, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions especially need to receive flu shots.
"Flu shots not only protect ourselves but they protect those we're in contact with," Hintz said.
This is especially important for families with children under 6 months of age, according to Vickie Kelly, registered nurse at the Marietta City Health Department.
"A baby cannot have a flu shot until 6 months old, so you protect that baby ... by giving the flu shot to everybody that's around that baby," Kelly said.
Senior citizens are also at increased risk for complications due to the flu virus.
"As we age our immune systems don't work quite as well," said Terry Zdrale, executive director of the O'Neill Center. That's especially true for seniors with chronic illnesses like lung disease, seizure, heart problems and diabetes.
Many continue to worry they'll get the flu bug from a flu shot, which isn't true.
"(Flu) injections are not live vaccines," Brown said.
People can have flu-like symptoms for one or two days after a flu shot, said Hintz.
"Side effects are a lot milder than what the actual disease would be," Hintz added, and can include fever, body aches and fatigue, which are a reaction to the shot.
The Washington County Health Department is currently offering flu shots from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Fridays at 342 Muskingum Drive, Marietta.
The county health department's annual Drive-Thru Flu Shot Clinic will be held 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Muskingum Drive location.
The cost of the flu vaccine at the Washington County Health Department is $25 for adults and $10 for children. The department accepts Medicare, Part B and Medicaid. No one will be turned away for inability to pay.
The Marietta City Health Department is giving flu shots 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to children (6 months through 18) on Mondays and adults (19 and older) on Tuesdays.
Cost at the city health department is $25 for adults and $7 for children. Medicaid and Medicare are also accepted.
The O'Neill Center will offer flu shots 12:30 to 2 p.m. Nov. 8. For those not on Medicare, a $25 donation is suggested.
Zdrale said she expects about 100 area seniors to receive flu shots that day.
"They're accustomed to coming here, it's convenient and it's easy," added Zdrale.
Flu shots are also available at Fruth Pharmacy in Belpre and pharmacies at area CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Walmart, Kroger and K-Mart stores.