Drive Thru Flu Shot program part of readiness exercise

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Oklahoma State Department of Health Regional Director Cara Gluck said Tuesday’s Drive-Thru Flu Shot exercise at the Jackson County Expo Center serves more than a vaccination for this year’s flu. It’s also part of a three-day statewide exercise to test the state’s ability to respond and provide mass immunizations in the event of a public health emergency such as an infectious disease outbreak.

Gluck spoke about the importance of both the exercise and getting the flu shot to a Wednesday morning breakfast group that meets at the Friendship Inn. The Drive-Thru Flu Shot exercise will be Tuesday from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Expo Center, 412 Todd Lane in Altus.

The local health department has 1,900 doses of the flu vaccine and will be administering the no out-of-pocket expense shots as people drive through the Expo Center. Some people, especially children between the ages of 6 months and 18 years old, will go inside the Expo Center to get accurate dosages for their ages. Gluck said the children would be administered in a controlled environment in the Expo Center.

If you have health insurance, you do need to take your insurance card with you as your insurance company will be billed for the vaccine and an administration fee.

Last year, only about 75 people participated in the Drive-Thru Flu Shots at the Expo Center. She’s hoping for larger numbers this year to test the area’s ability to respond during emergencies. Gluck said she wants to involve all major employers as well, such as Bar S, Jackson County Memorial Hospital and Altus Air Force Base employees.

After the Drive-Thru Flu Shots are administered, the remaining doses of the vaccine will be available beginning Oct. 14 at the health department, 401 W. Tamarack Road, in Altus.

Gluck said the typical flu season lasts from October through April.

Each year in the United States, flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. The flu vaccine is the best defense against getting the flu, according to Gluck. You cannot get the flu from taking the vaccine.

Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for severe illness from the flu, including pregnant women, children younger than 5 years of age and people with asthma, diabetes, chronic heart and lung disease and other chronic conditions. Parents and family members of babies younger than 6 months of age and people who live with or care for anyone at high risk for complications from the flu, including health care workers, should also get the vaccine.

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