Don’t get sick: Get that flu shot

Robert Smith

The Osage County Health Department last week announced that it has flu shots available. The Health Department is located at 1115 E. 15th Street and shots will be available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except for the lunch hour between noon and 1 p.m., when the clinic is closed.

The shots are being offered to the public at no out-of-pocket cost.

“We just want to vaccinate as many people as we can,” Interim Regional Director Kelli Rader said in an interview. While the Health Department encourages the public to make appointnments to receive the flu shot, walk-ins will be accommodated, as well.

“Flu can be devastating for healthy people,” Rader said, not to mention what it can do to those who are vulnerable for one reason or another.

Patients who have health insurance will be asked to provide information so that the health department can bill their insurance provider, Rader said, but she clarified that shot recipients will not be billed if their insurance provider does not agree to pay.

Additionally, persons who have no health insurance can also get the flu shot without being charged, Rader said.

“We just don’t want any barriers to care,” she said. “We want anyone that needs a flu shot, and that is everyone, to get a flu shot.”

Flu season usually starts in September or October and runs through April or May, the Osage County Health Department said. Flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths every year, and the flu shot is a defense against it. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that flu caused between 36,400 and 61,200 deaths during the 2018-19 season, including 116 pediatric deaths.

Vaccination is considered especially important for people at high risk for serious illness from the flu, including pregnant women, children younger than five years of age and people with asthma, diabetes, chronic heart and lung disease and other chronic conditions, the Health Department said. 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 receive the shot, the Health Department said.

For more information about the flu or flu clinics, contact the Osage County Health Department at 918-287-3740.