As summer winds down, signs of autumn begin to appear, including reminders to get flu vaccines.
The Ellis County Health Department conducted its first public flu shot clinic of the season Thursday afternoon at the Hays Public Library, 1205 Main.
The health department usually receives its first shipments of flu vaccine in mid- to late-September and begins scheduling clinics then, registered nurse Carla Hearld said.
“October is a good month,” for getting the flu shot, Hearld said, “and that’s a peak time for us getting our flu vaccines, and that’s just all over, not just us,” she said. “It seems like when school gets started, things just start running rampant.”
In addition to public vaccine clinics in Hays, Ellis and Victoria, county health personnel often work with businesses to offer vaccination to their employees. The library staff got their shots Thursday morning.
“We go out and spend a half hour, an hour giving their employees shots. Sometimes the business pays for them, sometimes they just bill insurance,” said Laura Leiker, Ellis County Health Department administrative assistant.
The public can also walk in to the health department, 2507 Canterbury, for flu shots.
Julie Cubilllo, of Hays, and her 4-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, got their shots at the library clinic.
Cubillo said she makes sure her daughter gets vaccinated every year.
“We were just here for Explorers,” she said of a morning children’s activity in the library, “and I was walking out and saw them and thought I need to get my flu shot.”
Kaitlyn was brave about getting her shot until it was time to sit on her mom’s lap in front of Hearld. She cried until Hearld put a colorful bandage on her leg, then watched curiously while mom got her shot in her arm, getting a bandage with a Minion character from the “Despicable Me” movies.
Hearld said being protected from the flu is very important. Getting the vaccine isn’t the only way to help keep it from spreading, she said.
“We have to cover those basics — covering our mouth when coughing or sneezing,” and washing hands frequently, she said.
Fear of getting the flu from the flu shot is unfounded, Leiker said.
“There’s no live virus, no way they can get the flu from the flu shot,” she said.
It takes about two weeks for the body to develop full protection after receiving the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so if someone does get the flu after a flu shot, they were likely exposed in that time, Hearld said.
There is also no need to get a booster shot later in the season.
“One dose takes care of the flu vaccine for the season,” Hearld said.
If a person does get the flu, she said, the most important thing is to stay home.
“Just stay home, get rest and fluids. And be patient. It’s going to take a few days to feel better, and that’s the hardest part sometimes,” she said.