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By Dan Rudy 

Low-cost flu clinics coming up

 


Like raking leaves and pumpkin-based desserts, influenza inoculations are another sign that summer is finally over. A pair of flu clinics will be held by Wrangell healthcare providers later this month.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that people get immunized early on in the season, before flu activity picks up the pace. The strain chosen for this year’s vaccine is expected to perform better than last year’s. On its site, CDC explains vaccine efficacy can vary depending on how far the virus “drifts” during a season.

Its findings for last year’s vaccine found reduced protection than anticipated among those who got their shots. More than two-thirds of the circulating H3N2 viruses analyzed had drifted from the vaccine strain.

Rosa Mergenthal, Wrangell Medical Center’s Infection Preventionist, explained, “Preliminary data is showing that this year’s flu vaccine is a good match to the strains that have been circulating around Southeast Alaska this summer and fall.”

The hospital is offering its adult immunization clinic on Oct. 16, dosing shots in the downstairs area of Harbor Light Assembly of God between 1 and 5 p.m. The current vaccine will be available in a low-dose variety for residents aged 18 to 64, and a high-dose variety for those 65 years and older.

People over the age of 50, those with chronic conditions, or those in close contact to others at high risk for complications from flu are particularly encouraged to get their shots. Staff will be able to bill people’s care coverage on-site, but people are asked to bring an insurance card or pertinent paperwork and a photo ID to the church.

The Wrangell Public Health (DPH) office will be holding a clinic of its own later in the month, anticipated the afternoon of Oct. 28 and the following morning. Vaccinations will be low-cost, $27.40 or less depending on where an individual falls on the sliding scale.

“We never turn anybody away,” said DPH nurse Ty Esposito. Though her office will provide vaccinations through the season to June, Esposito recommended people get them early.

“You know what’s scarier than Halloween? Getting the flu,” she joked.

 

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