Flu_shotInfluenza is a highly contagious seasonal respiratory infection that frequently leads to hospitalization and sometimes death. Approximately 200,000 Americans are hospitalized and 25,000-30,000 people die each year. Even with milder cases, children typically miss four days of school and adults four days of work. Considering lost wages and decreased productivity, influenza costs the U.S. $3 to $5 billion per year.

The vaccine is the best way to prevent getting influenza. It is quite safe with very few complications. It does NOT cause influenza. People most at risk for complications are the elderly, children, pregnant women or those with respiratory conditions, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and chronic infections such as hepatitis or HIV.

The viruses change yearly, so each year’s shot is different. Jona Cartwright, Community Outreach Nurse with the Saint Joseph Health System Community Health and Well-Being Program will be offering FREE flu shots at several locations around the county.

The FREE flu shots will be available at the Neighborhood Center at 402 West Garro Street in Plymouth today, Friday, November 1st from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.; in the front lobby of the St. Joseph Hospital in Plymouth on Wednesday, November 6th from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and at the Bremen Grace Food Pantry at 1238 West Plymouth Street on Wednesday, November 13th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The flu shots are FREE while supplies last although the St. Joseph Health is focusing on those with limited access to the vaccine.  Those who have insurance are encouraged to obtain their flu shots using their insurance.