Before the bug hits

Hamilton County Public Health encouraging community to get flu shots

—Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Adri Sietstra Deb Nessa, of Woolstock, gets her flu shot at Hamilton County Public Health on Thursday morning. A Children’s Flu Clinic will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 4 from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call (515) 832-9565.

With flu season fast approaching, Dawn Trujillo, RN with Hamilton County Public Health, is encouraging Hamilton County residents to get vaccinated. Flu season begins in October and ends in April, according to Trujillo.

“Kids are our focus,” said Trujillo. “We really need to educate our children.”

Hamilton County Public Health will be holding a Children’s Flu Clinic for those eligible on Wednesday, Oct. 4 from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the public health office at 820 James St. This will be for children ages six months and up.

Trujillo explained that a child’s eligibility to come to Hamilton County Public Health for their flu shot is based on the following factors.

“If your child is on Title 19 or Medicaid, or you have no insurance, or if you have health insurance but it won’t pay for the flu shot,” said Trujillo. “That’s the criteria we look for.”

Trujillo noted Hamilton County Public Health does not accept Hawkeye Insurance.

“We cannot do Hawkeye,” said Trujillo. “If the child has Hawkeye Insurance it will pay one hundred percent for that child to get it at the doctor’s office.”

“We’ve had the vaccine since August,” she said.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the flu vaccine can keep individuals from getting the flu, make the flu less severe if an individual does get it and keeps individuals from spreading the flu to family members and other people.

Last year, numbers were down for individuals who received the flu shot, according to Trujillo.

Once vaccinated, it takes two weeks for protection to develop, which then lasts through the entire flu season.

Influenza, known more commonly as the flu, is a contagious disease that spreads around the United States every year, usually between October and May. It is caused by influenza viruses and is spread mainly by coughing, sneezing and close contact.

Flu symptoms vary depending on age but can include:

• fever/chills

• sore throat

• muscle aches

• fatigue

• cough

• headache

• runny/stuffy nose

The flu is most dangerous for infants, young children, pregnant women, those with certain health conditions, weakened immune systems and individuals ages 65 and over. Indivudals who are feeling under the weather should wait to get the shot until they are feeling better.

“We are seeing some Influenza in Iowa already, but peak is late December, January and February,” Trujillo said.

“You get a couple kids in a classroom that are coughing and sneezing and they aren’t washing their hands, it’s going to spread,” Trujillo said.

“Parents need to be on board with explaining to their kids the importance of getting the shot,” said Trujillo.

Trujillo noted the importance of children practicing good hygeine at home and school. This means washing hands, covering coughs and sanitizing commonly-used surfaces. Children are encouraged to use the “Three C’s”: clean, cover and contain.

“Dispose of your tissues. Cough into your elbow. Cover your mouth when you sneeze,” said Trujillo. “That’s really the best advice we can give.”

Sanitizing and disinfecting commonly-used surfaces can also help keep students and adults healthy as the flu season approaches. Trujillo suggests wiping down desks, keyboards, chairs, phones and even doorknobs. Refreshing bedding, especially pillowcases, is also an important step in staying healthy.

“Computer keyboards are one of the worst for spreading germs,” she said.

Children and adults who are sick should not go to school or work. If children go to school ill, they could easily spread their germs and cause classmates to become sick. The same goes for adults in the workforce.

“I know that staying home sick is difficult for some people. They either don’t get paid or reimbursed for being sick,” said Trujillo. “But unfortunately, if you come to work, you aren’t worth anything as far as doing your job when sick.”

Trujillo has already started traveling to different communities in Hamilton County for adult flu shot clinics. Adults ages 65 and older are “highly recommended” to get the high dose option. The only difference between the regular and high dosage is the high dose has more antigen,which builds immunity faster.

“We have scheduled clinics,” Trujillo said. “If that doesn’t work into your schedules to attend one of the scheduled clinis, call before you walk in.”

To schedule an appointment, call (515) 832-9565. Hamilton County Public Health accepts Traditional Medicare Part B, Medicaid and most private insurance.

Upcoming clinics

Hamilton County Public Health will hold a series of flu vaccine clinics across Hamilton County.

Flu shots are available to the general public. Traditional Medicare Part B, Medicaid and most private insurance is accepted. Cost is $25 for regular dose and $50 for high dose, available for those 65 years and older.

Flu clinics will continue on Friday and next week at the following locations: 

Thursday, Oct. 5 – Webster City Fire Station SALT meeting, 9 to 11 a.m., walk-ins;

Friday, Oct. 6 — Stratford Fire Station, 12 to 1 p.m.;

Friday, Oct. 6 — Ellsworth Library, 1:30 to 2 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 12 — Webster City Hamilton County Public Health office, 4 to 6 p.m.;

Sunday, Oct. 15 — Webster City Lions Club Pancake meal, Middle School, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

More clinics will be scheduled in Webster City. Call Public Health at 832-9565 for more information.