The Fairfield County Health Department is offering vaccinations to ward off seasonal influenza.

The Fairfield County Health Department is offering vaccinations to ward off seasonal influenza.

In Pickerington, a clinic will be held at the Pickerington Senior Center, 150 Hereford Drive, from 9 to 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 6. Clinics also are planned in Sugar Grove, Millersport, Carroll, Amanda, Bremen, Rushville, Pleasantville and at the Fairfield County Fair.

Vaccinations will be free for senior citizens who present their Medicare Part B or Medicaid cards, and $25 for all others.

"This is for the seasonal flu," said Frank Hirsch, Fairfield County health commissioner. "We're planning a mass immunization for the H1N1 virus -- the swine flu -- later this month."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, around 10 to 20 percent of U.S. residents will get influenza each year. The CDC estimates an average of about 36,000 people per year in the U.S. will die from influenza, and 200,000 per year are hospitalized as a result of the illness.

Hirsch said his department offers seasonal flu shots each fall. Next year, however, Fairfield County won't provide the vaccine in Pickerington because the city will contract for health services with Franklin County.

In the meantime, Hirsch is hoping residents in Pickerington, Violet Township and throughout the county will get immunized for the seasonal flu. In particular, he said, adults age 65 or older, all children six months to 23 months old, children six months to 18 years old on chronic aspirin therapy and people ages 2 to 64 years old with underlying chronic medical conditions should "strongly consider" getting the vaccine because of their high risk to becoming sick from the flu.

Additionally, Hirsch said, all women who will be pregnant during flu season, residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities and health-care workers involved in direct patient care also should be vaccinated for the seasonal flu.

"Our clinics are community-based and will be offered at various churches and gathering places throughout the county," he said. "Our cost at our clinics is $25 for a shot, but if people can't afford a shot at all, my recommendation would be to call our Fairfield County Community Health Center at (740) 689-6755."

Hirsch said homebound persons can call the community health center to schedule an appointment for a health department nurse to administer flu shots in their homes.

The federal government is expected to release an H1N1 virus vaccine later this month, Hirsch said. He said everyone living in the county should consider receiving those shots, which will be given for free, because health officials are concerned about a worldwide pandemic.

In Fairfield County, H1N1 infections have been confirmed in two people. Both since have recovered.

"We're starting the seasonal flu shots a little bit early this year because we want to eliminate any confusion between them and the H1N1 vaccine," he said.

Additional information about flu shots can be obtained by calling the Fairfield County Health Department's flu shot hotline at (740) 653-4489, extension 130.

nellis@thisweeknews.com

Flu shot clinics