(Updated at 8:45 p.m.) Arlington residents will be able to cast their votes and get a free flu shot on Election Day next Tuesday.
Flu shots will be offered from 9-11 a.m. at Key Elementary School (2300 Key Blvd) on Nov. 3.
To get a free shot, people will have to volunteer for a public health emergency simulation, which lasts about 30 minutes.
During the simulation, volunteers will fill out some paperwork, speak with a medication dispensing representative and then receive M&Ms or animal crackers, which represent medication, said Department of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick.
The simulation is meant to help the county and staff prepare for a medical emergency where they may have to dispense medicine, Larrick said.
Practicing for a public health emergency gives county planners and staff hands-on experience, Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese said in a statement.
“This is a great opportunity for members of the community to protect themselves against the flu,” Varghese said. “But it’s about more than that. What we’re really doing is testing our ability to deliver medications during a public health emergency. These simulations give our planners and other staff valuable hands-on experience, and by moving the exercise around the county we are able to evaluate different sites for challenges and opportunities.”
Flu activity is currently low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The public health agency recommends everyone ages six months and up gets a flu shot, adding that the flu can cause thousands of hospitalizations and deaths each year.
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Photo courtesy Andrew Clegg
With temperatures in the 60s this week, it may seem too early to worry about fighting off sickness this winter. Already, though, illnesses are popping up around the area. That should be the perfect reminder to go out and get a vaccine now that flu season is in full swing.
Flu season continues into the spring, and although shots are effective no matter when they’re administered, it’s better to get one early in the season. This is especially true considering the vaccine will typically take a week or two to kick in.
Flu shots gained popularity in Arlington during the H1N1 scare, and county officials are pleased with the number of people continuing to get vaccinated. Although it’s difficult to predict so early in the season, thus far there are no indicators to suggest a flu outbreak like we’ve seen in recent years. The county also reports there is ample supply of this year’s flu vaccine. It protects against three different strains of influenza, including H1N1.
“The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated,” said Arlington County Department of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months of age and older should get an annual flu vaccine.”
“Residents can get vaccinated at doctor’s offices, many retail stores throughout the County and at special community clinics offered through Partnerships for a Healthier Arlington and Inova Health Systems,” Larrick continued. “At these community clinics you can get the entire family vaccinated, and the vaccine is free for older adults with Medicare Part B.”
If not covered by insurance, flu shots typically go for about $30.
Prevention, Larrick added, should also be part of any flu season strategy.
“It’s also important to cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands frequently and stay home when sick,” he said.
Image via Wikimedia Commons