Hundreds turn out for mass flu shot clinic

The Jefferson County Health Unit saw about 400 patients by early afternoon Friday at its mass flu shot clinic at the Pine Bluff Convention Center, officials said.

The clinic set out to give flu shots or nasal sprays to every resident in the area on Friday.

Volunteers from the health department and nursing students from the Jefferson School of Nursing were on hand at the convention center to administer the vaccines.

Harrriett Sheeks, a registered nurse and interim Jefferson County clinic coordinator, said the department is trying to get everyone to get the vaccine.

“We want 6 months and older to come get the shot and especially pregnant women,” Sheeks said.

During pregnancy, the body can be more weakened and unable to combat the flu, but a bonus to the vaccine during pregnancy is that it allows for protection of the newborn from the flu which can be fatal at infancy, officials said.

When asked about the main misconceptions people have about the vaccine, Sheeks said it was that the flu shot was just a dose of the flu itself.

“It’s very scientific. But basically it is not the flu, but a ‘killed’ strain that will not give you the flu,” she said.

The vaccine helps the body to combat the ailment by developing antibodies that can better fight the flu. Some side effects associated with the vaccine are headache and fatigue but are far less than the actual effects of influenza, officials said.

RN LaKita Davis, one of the nurses giving out the vaccine, said that most people asked her about the expense associated with the shot.

“They ask if it’s free, and it is, but we take their insurance information if they have it and that will pay for the shot, but if they don’t have insurance then we will still give them the flu shot,” Davis said.

Alberta Reed got her shot during the clinic and was glad for the service.

“I get one every year,” she said as she had stopped by during her lunch break to receive the shot in the arm which she said was just a sting.

The flu kills and hospitalizes thousands each year and those numbers can be reduced if efforts are put forth to be more educated and prepared, officials said.