It’s that time of year again: flu season. In an effort to avoid the seasonal ailment, Liberty-area residents rolled up their sleeves Thursday at the county health department’s drive-through vaccination clinic at Coastal EMC in Midway. Participants paid $25 for the shot that also is available at the health department for the same price.
“They try to do one every year. It is a neat concept. The reason the health department likes to do it is because it is the ultimate convenience. They (patients) literally do not have to get out of their car,” said Sally Silbermann, Coastal Health District public information officer.
“The 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against 2009 H1N1 and two other influenza viruses (an H3N2 virus and an influenza B virus),” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, www.cdc.gov.
This year’s seasonal flu vaccine will protect against three influenza viruses that are generally the most common during the season, Silbermann said. Because the 2009 H1N1 virus, also known as Swine Flu, caused so much illness last year, the strain was included so patients would not have to get a separate vaccine.
Patients could choose a nasal-spray flu vaccine, made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu, or the typical flu shot, which contains the dead virus and is administered with a needle, according to the CDC website.
Brenda Fitzgerald, 67, came from Riceboro to get her annual flu shot. As a retired licensed practical nurse, she said there is no excuse for people not to get the vaccine, especially when it was as convenient as a drive-through.
“They have a very good setup and are very professional,” Fitzgerald said of the drive-in clinic.
She even brought her 91-year-old mother-in-law, Stella Fitzgerald, to come out with her.
“Thank God for it,” her mother-in-law said of the shot. “So we don’t catch it.”
For 2010, Liberty County Health Department received approximately 850 doses of flu vaccines this year and has given out 450 doses so far, said Silbermann. Residents were encouraged to print the consent forms before arriving to the drive-through clinic to keep lanes moving quickly.
In addition to the general flu shot, the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine (TDAP) also was given — free of charge — at the drive-through clinic. Those vaccinated were asked to wait a few minutes after the shot to ensure there was no allergic reaction, the same as if they had visited the health department.
“We are trying to make it as convenient as possible for the citizens of Liberty County to get their seasonal flu vaccinations this year,” said Annie Washington, a registered nurse and the Liberty County Health Department’s nurse manager. “No one wants to get the flu and getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent that from happening.”
Only about a dozen people drove through the event likely because most of the private companies like Walgreens have already received the vaccines and people have gotten theirs that way, said Deidre Howell, administrator for the Liberty County Health Department.
But the setup for the drive-in is still good practice for employees, because it is similar to how the health department would operate in a bio-terrorism attack or serious health outbreak in the community, said Howell.
According to a Coastal Health District press release, the shot “is approved for people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people, people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women.”
The Liberty County Health Department had two drive-through clinics last year and gave about 200 shots.
“We strongly recommend you get the flu shot,” Washington said. “It is never too late to get the flu shot. The seasons are unpredictable.”