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Area flu shot clinics underway
October 4, 2019

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Fall means the beginning of flu season for North Dakotans, and Pierce County health providers are urging residents to get immunized, not only for themselves, but for their loved ones.

Pierce County public health nurse Samantha Wentz, who works with the Lake Region District Health Unit in Devils Lake, said the flu shot is "not only protecting yourself, but your grandma and grandpa; your nieces and nephews who may be babies; your friend who's taking chemo you're protecting others by just getting the vaccine yourself."

Dr. Josalynne Hoff of Rugby's Heart of America Johnson Clinic agreed. "Babies less than six months old can't get (the flu shot). So, everyone who's around a baby or anyone who's around a kid of any sort their risks are higher, so you should get a flu shot if you work around them."

"Or, if you're around anyone older than 65 that's another group of people that are higher risk," Hoff added. "That's pretty much everybody, because who's not around a kid, or someone older than 65?"

Hoff said later via email a higher dose vaccine is available for higher-risk older patients. Hoff said the shot is "intended for people 65 and older. People in this age group often need a higher dose to get a good immune response, which is what helps protect against the flu."

Hoff said complications of the flu can be serious.

"One common complication is the development of pneumonia. This is one of the major reasons people end up in the hospital or ICU. This can be life-threatening and does end in death in some cases," Hoff noted.

"Inflammation in the heart, kidneys, brain and muscles can also occur. Influenza can also cause an exacerbation of chronic medical problems such as asthma, COPD and chronic heart disease," Hoff added.

Hoff also addressed a misconception about the flu in her email.

"The flu shot does NOT cause the flu. It does cause an immune reaction, so people may have a low grade temperature and feel a little under the weather temporarily. This is actually a good thing as it means your body is making antibodies to fight against a true influenza infection should you be exposed," Hoff wrote.

Wentz indicated immunized people may still be exposed to the virus in their daily lives, however, "if you would actually get influenza and have the vaccine, it would make the symptoms a lot less than they would be had you had the vaccine."

Flu shots are available at several locations this month.

The Lake Region District Health Unit will offer the shots at their office on the lower level of the Pierce County Courthouse from 8:00 a.m. to noon and from 1-5 p.m. October 17 and 25, and from 5-7 p.m. October 16. LRDHU will also offer flu shot clinics at Little Flower School October 7 from 1-3 p.m.; Ely Elementary School from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Rugby High School October 9 from 1-4 p.m. and the Rugby Senior Center, October 16 from 11a.m. to noon.

To schedule flu shots at a place of business or for information on walk-in immunizations, call Wentz at 776-6783.

Flu shots are available at the HAMC Johnson Clinic every Wednesday through November 27 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Patients requiring a higher dose vaccine may schedule a visit with a nurse at 776-5235. HAMC flu shot clinics in Dunseith and Maddock have immunizations available daily during regular clinic hours.

Thrifty White Drug in Rugby also has flu shots available daily during regular business hours.

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