Local clinics look to stay ahead of flu

Published 10:32 am Friday, September 23, 2011

Kathie Sheldon receives a flu shot from CMA Dale Olson Thursday afternoon at the Smart Clinic in Sterling Drug. -- Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

School has started, the leaves are beginning to fall and Austin residents have gotten their first unmistakable taste of chilly weather. Next up: Flu season.

Many area pharmacies and smart clinics, along with Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin, are offering the flu shot in the coming weeks, and this year the vaccine is recommended for anyone older than six months.

“The vaccination is definitely a prevention of the flu, along with other measures of covering your cough and hand-washing,” said Tricia Browning, primary clinic supervisor at MCHS-Austin. “October is the starting point when we want people to get vaccinated against the flu.”

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Browning said many people seem to think only young children and senior citizens should be vaccinated for the flu. However, the vaccine is important for people of all ages because anyone can catch it and pass it on.

Anyone who suffers from a chronic illness such as asthma or heart disease should be sure to be vaccinated, Browning said.

“Certainly people with chronic health conditions and higher risk illness, we definitely recommend they get vaccinated, including the pregnant, the young and seniors,” she said.

Lisa Kocer, Mower County Public Health nursing supervisor, echoed Browning’s recommendation. Kocer said few people perceive the flu shot as something for younger age groups, but the Center for Disease Control has recommended it for everyone.

“We have a way to prevent illness from the flu by getting vaccinated,” Kocer said. “It’s the number-one thing you can do to prevent the flu.”

MCHS-Austin is offering vaccines in both injection and mist forms. The mist is given internasally and is a live virus, so patients must be healthy before receiving it, according to Browning.

The mist is also a more attractive option than injection for those who don’t like needles.

“The flu mist gives really good, broad coverage,” Browning said. “If people are afraid of needles, the flu mist is definitely an option.”

Browning added that people with chronic illness should choose the injection over the mist, since the mist is a live virus.

Each year, a new version of the vaccine is issued to cover any new strains of the illness. Browning said this year’s vaccine is the same as last year’s and will protect against H1N1.

According to MCHS-Austin, symptoms of the flu can include a sore throat, coughing, fever, headache, muscle aches and fatigue. Being aware of the difference between a cold and the flu is important because the flu can leave a person with severe symptoms for weeks.

“A cold results in a runny nose and a stuffed up head. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea rarely accompany influenza,” an MCHS-Austin news release stated.

Some area pharmacies/clinics offering flu shots:

Walgreens Pharmacy

Available now through at least Jan. 1, 2012

Only vaccinating adults ages 19 and older

Weekdays 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

$34.99 cash; accepting some insurance

Walmart Pharmacy

Available now through Sept. 30

10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

$25 cash; also accepting some insurance

Mower County Public Health

Shot clinic every Friday from 3:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Flu shots available now until supplies run out

Children and adults who are underinsured or uninsured are eligible, cost is $14

Medical assistance accepted

Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin

Available now, by appointment only at 433-8758

$47 cash for injection, $64 cash for mist

Will also take insurance

School-aged children flu shot clinics Oct. 15 and Oct. 22 from 8 a.m. to noon

Other Mayo Clinic Health System flu shot clinic dates include:

• October 6 — LeRoy Clinic from 1 to 4 p.m.

• October 13 — Grand Meadow Clinic from 8 to 11 a.m.

• October 21 — Adams Clinic from 1 to 4 p.m.

Medicare and cash accepted at LeRoy, GM and Adams locations only; no appointment necessary.