Free flu vaccines offered in Wise next week

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FILE – In this Feb. 7, 2018 file photo, a nurse prepares a flu shot at the Salvation Army in Atlanta. The U.S. winter flu season is off to its earliest start in more than 15 years. An early barrage of illness in the South has begun to spread more broadly, and there’s a decent chance flu season could peak much earlier than normal, health officials say. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

GATE CITY, Va. (WJHL) – Virginia residents can get a free flu shot next week through a drive-thru clinic operated by the Lenowisco Health Department.

The event will run from 3 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 16 in the parking lot Glamorgan Chapel Church, 183 Southmark Road SW, in Wise. Virginians age 3 and older are encouraged to receive a free vaccine. no ID is required to get a vaccine.

The health department strongly encourages first reponders to attend and get vaccinated.

Supplies are limited, so vaccines will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendants should wear a short-sleeved shirt or sleeves that roll up.

The vaccine protects against four different strains of the influenza virus, and those interested my visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/lenowisco/ to print and fill out a paper registration form to bring to the clinic. This will simplify the paperwork at the clinic, but it does NOT reserve a dose of vaccine.

“Getting a flu vaccination this year is more important than ever,” said Eleanor Cantrell, M.D., director of the Cumberland Plateau and LENOWISCO Health Districts. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 will likely continue into the fall and winter and may overlap with the flu season. With the possibility of both viruses occurring in our communities at the same time, it is vital that everyone age 6 months or older get their yearly flu shot.”

The purpose of this drive-thru exercise is to simulate a mass vaccination event in which the health department and local agencies would work together so community members could be vaccinated efficiently during a time of emergency.

Getting a seasonal flu vaccine each year is the best way to prevent the spread of flu. Wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and stay home if you do get sick.

While the timing of flu season is unpredictable, seasonal flu activity often begins to increase in October, most commonly peaks between December and February and can last as late as May. The CDC recommends that everyone age 6 months and older get a flu vaccine by the end of October. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body to protect against flu virus infection.

For more information about this drive-thru clinic, contact Michael Whiteaker, local health emergency coordinator for the LENOWISCO Health District, at 276-386-8011. For more information on seasonal flu or the flu vaccine, visit http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/influenza-flu-in-virginia/ or https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.

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