Drive-thru flu shots offered today in Esky

Jordan Beck | Daily Press OSF HealthCare St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group office worker Samantha Mlostek, left, gets a flu shot from her coworker, Registered Nurse Catherine Lindberg, right, in this file photo. Flu season is drawing near and Public Health Delta-Menominee Counties is holding a drive-thru immunization clinic today.

ESCANABA — With the area’s flu season expected to start in the coming months, Public Health, Delta and Menominee Counties will hold its annual drive-thru immunization clinic today from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Immunization and Communicable Disease Coordinator Jennie Miller said there is no way to know how severe the 2017-18 flu season will be at this point.

“It’s not possible to predict what this flu season will be like. It is too soon to tell,” she said. Each year’s flu season can vary in timing, severity, and length.

No matter what path the upcoming flu season takes, however, Miller said people should get vaccinated for the flu.

“Getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu,” she said. She also stated that having a large number of vaccinated people in the population helps to protect the health of older people, very young children, pregnant women, and people with some health conditions.

According to Miller, flu activity is currently low in the United States. However, the flu season can begin in October and continue into May.

“That is why it is important to get a flu vaccine right away and not procrastinate,” she wrote.

Miller said Public Health’s drive-thru clinic provides a fast and efficient opportunity for people in the area to get vaccinated.

“This is especially important for those with limited mobility who have a difficult time getting into a clinic or waiting in a line,” she said.

The clinic will be held in Public Health’s parking lot at 2920 College Ave., Escanaba. There is a fee for a flu shot, and high-dose vaccines will also be available this year for a fee. Medicare, Medicaid, Healthy Michigan, and most insurance can be billed at the clinic.

No appointments are necessary to attend the drive-thru clinic, but attendees are asked to come during a designated time period ­corresponding to the first letter of their last name. People with last names starting with A-D should come to the clinic between 9 and 10 a.m., people with last names starting with E-K should come between 10 and 11 a.m., people with last names starting with L-Q should come between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m., and people with last names starting with R-Z should come between 12 and 1 p.m. Those unable to attend the clinic during the time period matching their last name can come anytime between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

For the 2017-18 flu season, flu vaccines are recommended to contain the H1N1 and H3N2 strains of influenza A, along with the Victoria lineage of influenza B. Four-component vaccines are recommended to contain these and the Yamagata lineage of influenza B.

While getting vaccinated for the flu is the most effective way to avoid catching it, Miller said there are additional things people can do to further reduce their risk of catching or spreading the flu.

“You can take everyday preventative actions to avoid the spread of germs,” she said. Some of the actions people can take include:

– avoiding close contact with sick people and limiting contact with others as much as possible while sick.

– staying home while sick until their fever has been gone for at least 24 hours.

– using a tissue when coughing and sneezing and throwing tissues away after using them.

– washing their hands regularly with soap and water.

– not touching their eyes, nose, and mouth.

– cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that may be contaminated.

– taking flu antiviral drugs if prescribed by their doctor.