By Lindy Thackston
The weather doesn’t scream flu season right now, but it is here. In Marion County, the flu season can last from now through late April.
The first Marion County Public Health Department Flu Shot Clinic of the season opened Thursday morning to a steady stream of Hoosiers.
For Gregory Schmitt and his wife, it was date morning at the Flu Shot Clinic! They’re celebrating 50 years together. They’d like several more and say that’s why they got in line on the first day.
“(If I don’t get one) it could make me sick and maybe I’d make other people sick and really it could bring on death because I’m past the 70-year-old bracket,” said Schmitt.
And that was the age group hit hard last year. The one year Schmitt couldn’t get his shot.
“I was well until last year and then all of a sudden when it hits you, you just go down so fast.”
The shot is for anyone 6 months and older.
Derrick Luckett from Indianapolis doesn’t mind the needle, saying, “Back in the 80s I had the flu once and it’s not a good feeling!”
Luckett swears by the shot and gets it every year, but he understands not everyone agrees.
He says he’s thankful for the low cost offered by the Marion County Health Department. Influenza vaccines are $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 2 to 18 and free for children under the age of 2. Pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccines are $40 and tetanus (Td or Tdap) are $20. Medicare and Medicaid will be accepted.
“If the health department is doing it, why not take advantage of it?” asked Luckett.
Melissa McMasters is the coordinator of the Marion County Immunizations and Infectious Disease programs.
She said, “The strains change yearly and the vaccine is updated yearly and that’s why it’s important to get it every single year.”
And it’s important to get it early, she said. Despite the federal government shutdown, state health officials said there are no changes in influenza monitoring from the CDC.
“We don’t think the vaccine availability is going to be impacted by the government shutdown, but what will be impacted is flu surveillance,” said McMasters. “That means tracking influenza illness.”
The Indiana State Department of Health will continue to consult with the agency. If the federal shutdown drags on, there could conceivably be a change in outbreak monitoring.
There are six more Flu Shot Clinics scheduled. Community flu clinic locations are:
Thursday, Oct. 3
1350 N. Pennsylvania St.
Tuesday, Oct. 8
Southport United Methodist Church
1947 E. Southport Rd.
Tuesday, Oct. 8
Old Bethel United Methodist Church
7995 E. 21st St.
Tuesday, Oct. 15
Southport Presbyterian Church
7525 McFarland Blvd.
Wednesday, Oct. 16
Jewish Community Center
6701 Hoover Rd.
Wednesday, Oct. 23
Chin Community Center
2524 E. Stop 11 Rd.
Flu shots are also available at the Marion County Public Health Department’s district health offices. To find out locations and hours, visit MCHD.com or call the Flu Hotline at 317-221-2121.