Free flu shots are being offered to those who might not be able to afford to get the vaccination.

In collaboration with Walgreens Pharmacy, the Rev. Sam Mims says the pharmacy has offered 300 vouchers to allow those who cannot afford the vaccine to get their flu shot for the year.

“It’s supposed to be a pretty rough flu season,” Mims said. “They are going to provide shots for at least 300 people who cannot otherwise afford the shots.”

On Monday, Jan. 18, from 9 until noon, those who need the flu shots can go to the Washington Community Center, located on Fifth Street Southwest in Springhill.

On Saturday, Jan. 23, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., shots will be given at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in Dubberly, and on Wednesday, Jan. 27, shots will be given from 1 until 4 p.m. at the Northwest 14th District Building.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there has been a relatively low level of influenza-related illness across the United States. In Minden, the virus has yet to spread heavily.

“Flu season usually begins in October and lasts through May, but each year is a little different,” Ashley Frye, RN, infection preventionist at Minden Medical Center, said. “In recent years, flu has peaked in January, but the number of positive flu tests has been very low here and across the state. There are other bugs spreading through our community, making people sick with stomach issues and flu-like symptoms, but true ‘flu’ remains low. This could still change over the next few weeks, as each year the flu season varies. We hope our community members have done their part including getting their flu shot, frequently washing their hands and staying home when they are sick, are things we can all do to prevent spreading the flu.”

MMC is dedicated to making communities healthier, a big part of which includes helping educate people about prevention. There are several things people can do to protect themselves from the flu and other infections, prevent it from spreading and speed recovery if they contract the virus.

First, get vaccinated, MMC officials say.

“This is the best available form of protection from the virus,” officials said. “It is still possible to contract the flu after being vaccinated, but less likely. Furthermore, studies have shown that if you do get sick with the flu, the vaccine may make your illness milder.”

Other preventative measures include:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol-based.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid sharing food, cups or eating utensils.
  • Disinfect your home and belongings, such as children’s toys and play areas.
  • Stay home from work or school if you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with a tissue, your sleeve or elbow, and not your bare hands.
  • Get a flu shot.
  • Call your local hospital or primary care physician with any questions.

    MMC is also taking steps at the hospital to prevent the flu from spreading, officials say. They include:

  • Providing masks to all visitors and patients experiencing flu-like symptoms.
  • Setting up stations throughout the facility stocked with tissues and alcohol-based sanitizers.
  • Encouraging all patients, staff and visitors who have not done so already to get their flu shot, and
  • Providing educational material to all visitors about everyday preventative actions.
  • Early detection is key for young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with certain chronic health issues. When detected early, prescription anti-viral drugs can often help treat the illness and shorten the time you are sick by one or two days.
  • Also, limit contact with others as much as possible if noticing symptoms.

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