Update: according to a Tuesday report, the number of flu-related deaths has climbed to 140.
LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Department of Health is offering free flu shots in all Local Health Units. There will be no out of pocket cost for patients, regardless of their insurance status. The state continues to see a high number of flu cases and flu-related deaths this season.
Any Arkansan who has not yet received a flu shot can go to the local health unit near them. In Logan County there are units in Booneville at 721 West First Street, and in Paris at 150 South Lowder. No apponitment is necessary for the shot. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on normal business days — the offices will be closed on Monday, Feb. 19 for President’s Day.
ADH is reporting 125 flu-related deaths so far this season. Three of those deaths were children. It is not too late to get your flu shot this flu season. Even in years where the flu shot is not perfect, it is still the best protection from the flu that is available. Other important ways you can help prevent the spread of flu include: washing your hands, avoiding people who are sick, coughing into your elbow, avoiding touching your face and eyes, and staying home when you are sick.
Flu symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, muscle or body aches, fatigue and a headache. Symptoms may also include vomiting and diarrhea in children. Influenza antiviral prescription drugs, like Tamiflu, can be used to prevent or treat influenza if started soon after symptoms begin.
People who are at a higher risk for complications from the flu include:
• Children aged two years old and younger
• Adults aged 65 years and older
• Pregnant women, or women up to two weeks after delivering a child
• People with a suppressed immune system
• People with chronic health problems, like asthma, diabetes, cancer and heart disease
• Residents of nursing homes or other chronic care facilities
It is recommended that everyone aged 6 months and older get the flu shot every year. It is especially important for pregnant women and others at high risk for complications. The flu shot is available in Local Health Units located in every county and many doctor’s offices. Pharmacies also have flu shots available but do not give flu shots to children younger than seven years of age.