The McPherson County Health Department is looking to arm you against influenza this season by offering its seasonal flu shots starting Monday.
Cooler weather brings not only the promise of changing colors on leaves, but also the flu. The McPherson County Health Department is looking to arm you against influenza this season by offering its seasonal flu shots starting Monday. Immunization Coordinator Melany Webster warned influenza is not always what we think it is. “It’s not a stomach bug,” Webster said. “It’s not the vomiting flu, but a respiratory flu.” According to Webster, a respiratory flu can manifest in headaches, body aches, congestion and a cough. “A lot of time, it can then cause other infections,” Webster said. “For instance, a respiratory flu can get into the lungs and cause pneumonia.” While the peak flu season in Kansas isn’t until late February into March, Webster recommends anyone older than 6 months receive their vaccination as soon as possible. While the concentration in the last few years has been on infants and pregnant women, she also encourages seniors to get their vaccination. “It seems like those numbers have been dropping the last few years,” Webster said. “We want to make sure seniors get in and get their shots.” When it comes to children getting the vaccine, McPherson USD 418 leaves that decision up to the parents. “Kids are usually much more immune than our adults,” Chris Ruder, associate superintendent of business and operations, said. “We just don’t see flu make a huge impact.” The three strains chosen by the World Health Organization for this year’s vaccine include a 2009 A strain of H1N1, a 2011 A strain of H3N2 and a B strain from 2011 called Wisconsin. “They take some of the pertinent information from strains in previous years and use that to the best of their ability to decide which ones will be more active in the next year,” Webster said. Webster adds there are no fears of a shortage this year, noting the last time there was a shortage was 2004. The health department will offer flu shots from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays and Fridays. No appointments are necessary as walk-ins are encouraged. The cost is $25 for a shot or $35 for the nasal vaccine. The vaccination can be billed to Medicare, Medicaid or Blue Cross Blue Shield if you present your card at the time you get your shot. Additionally, Webster said outreach clinics will continue through the end of the month. One is scheduled from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Inman Senior Center. Another is planned from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Oct. 23 at the Moundridge Senior Center.