Arkansas Department of Health to provide flu clinic at State Fair Grounds

The Arkansas Department of Health is holding a mass flu clinic on Tuesday at the State Fair Grounds from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in an effort to immunize as many people as possible.

The ADH held its first mass seasonal flu vaccine clinic on October 22 and will continue to hold clinics through the first week of November. The clinics are administered by health professionals, ADH staff and volunteers who work together to provide vaccines to the community.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone above the age of six months get a flu vaccine annually. The vaccine protects against three flu viruses that are expected to cause the most illness in an upcoming season.

"Getting an annual flu vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family against the flu," Paul Halverson, the state health officer and the director of the ADH, said.

Dianne Woodruff, a representative of the ADH's office of Health Communications and Marketing, said that while Arkansas has yet to report a flu case this season, the clinics are an effective preventive measure.

"We have not had any flu cases reported in Arkansas yet," Woodruff said. "The flu clinics are a preventative measure. Getting a flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu."

Woodruff said that the clinics disperse either the flu vaccine or a nasal spray via a walk-through or drive-through format.

"(The drives have) absolutely been successful," Woodruff said. "We've had a good turnout. It focuses attention on the need to get a flu shot. We know a lot of people who don't come to the clinic, but the commercial providers are providing the flu vaccine, and the awareness that is created is really beneficial."

Sloane Roberts, who was recently crowned Miss Arkansas, will be one of the Arkansas residents on hand for the clinic on Tuesday.

The influenza virus spreads through sneezing, coughing and touching hard surfaces that contain the virus and then touching the mouth or nose. Symptoms include fever, extreme fatigue, aching muscles, headache, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, dry cough and occasionally vomiting, nausea or diarrhea.

People without insurance or with an insurance company that does not pay for flu shots are able to receive the vaccine free of charge. The best flu prevention strategy is to receive a vaccine each year.