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HOPE, Ark. — The Hempstead County Health Unit of the Arkansas Department of Health will offer flu vaccinations from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, at Hempstead Hall, 2500 South Main Street, Hope, Ark.

Attendees should bring their insurance cards. If they do not have insurance or the insurance does not cover flu shots, the vaccine will be available at no charge.

"We want Hempstead County residents to stay healthy this flu season and getting a yearly flu vaccination is the best line of defense," Debbie Howard, RN, Hempstead County Health Unit Administrator, said. "We encourage everyone to come to the mass clinic or the local health unit to get their flu shot."

Annual flu vaccination is recommended for most adults and children six months and older. The flu virus changes from year to year and this year's vaccine protects against the flu viruses that are expected to cause the most illness this flu season.

"The flu should not be taken lightly," said Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, Medical Director for Immunizations at ADH. "We are encouraging everyone to get a flu shot to protect themselves and their families, because it is hard to predict in advance how severe the flu season is going to be."

Certain people are more likely to have serious health problems if they contract the illness, including older adults, young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, people who smoke and people who live in nursing homes. Therefore, ADH strongly recommends that people in these groups get a flu vaccine. It is also recommended that friends, family members and people who provide care to people in these groups also get a vaccine—not only to protect themselves, but also to decrease the possibility that they might expose the people they love and care for to the flu.

The flu vaccine is safe and does not cause the flu. Some people may have mild soreness and redness near the site of the shot and a low fever or slight headache. There are very few medical reasons to skip the flu vaccine. These include life-threatening allergic reactions to a previous dose of the flu vaccine or an ingredient in the vaccine. People with allergies to vaccine ingredients can often receive the vaccine safely, if it is given in a doctor's office where they can be monitored.

The flu is easily spread through coughing or sneezing and by touching something, such as a doorknob, with the virus on it and then touching their nose or mouth. Good handwashing habits are important in preventing the flu; however, the best way to prevent the flu is to get the vaccine.

For more information, visit healthy.arkansas.gov or flu.gov.

—From the Arkansas Department of Health

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