With the diagnosis of several confirmed cases in the Baltimore area, flu season has arrived — earlier than usual, according to health officials.
About 200,000 Americans are hospitalized each year because of the flu, and more than 36,000 die because of flu-related complications.
There’s still ample time to receive the flu vaccine, and the Allegany County Health Department will hold an immunization clinic Oct. 25 for that purpose. It will be held in the Multipurpose Building at the Allegany County Fairgrounds from noon to 6 p.m.
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene says two different flu strains have been identified so far, and the vaccines are aimed at fighting three strains that are expected to be most prevalent.
Because the flu strains are different each year, last year’s shots will not remain useful.
The flu shot effectively prevents most cases of the flu and is recommended for anyone who wants to reduce the likelihood of illness or prevent the spread of the flu to others.
It is particularly important for children age 6 months to 18 years old, pregnant women, those who are immune-compromised or have any type of long-term illness, those over age 50, health care providers, and anyone working or living with people at high risk for influenza complications.
Although Thursday’s is the only large-scale public clinic planned in Allegany County, vaccines are offered on a walk-in basis at the Health Department’s Willowbrook Office Complex on Wednesdays from 1 to 4 p.m. Some pharmacies and other area businesses also offer flu shots.
The cost this year is $30 for the regular flu vaccine, $46 for high-dose for those 65 and older, and $72 for pneumococcal vaccine.
While payment is required at the time of service in the form of cash or check, no one will be denied service for inability to pay.
The health department can bill Medicare and Maryland Physicians Care. For all other insurance plans, a receipt can be provided upon request should you wish to seek reimbursement from your insurance provider.