Drive-Thru Flu Clinics planned

The DeKalb County Council on Aging and Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) plan a series of Drive-Thru Flu Clinics Oct. 21-30 in Fort Payne, Collinsville, Crossville, Ider, Valley Head and Geraldine.

Emily McCamy, director of DeKalb County Transportation and Council on Aging, said the flu shots are first-come, first-served while supplies last for adults of all ages.

Dates and times: 

• Fort Payne: 10/21, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. at VFW Fairgrounds, 151  18th St. NE

• Collinsville: 10/27, 9-11 a.m. at City Hall, 39 Post Office St.

• Crossville: 10/27, 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. at City Park, 14108 AL HWY 68

• Ider: 10/28, 9-11 a.m. at Missionary Baptist Church, 1695 Dogwood Drive

• Valley Head: 10/28, 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. at field beside Town Hall, 41 Anderson St.

• Geraldine: 10/30, 9 am – 11 am at First Baptist Church, 12854 Hwy 227

Details: No one will be turned away, but those with Medicare/Medicaid and insurance are asked to bring their cards

“There’s no charge for Medicare/Medicaid/BCBS Patients. Bring your Insurance Cards. It costs $15 for all other insured/uninsured patients. Services will not be denied due to inability to pay,” McCamy said.

“Getting your annual flu shot as soon as possible gives you and your loved ones the best protection throughout the flu season,” said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in an email encouraging flu shots for people who are 65 and older and at high risk of having serious health complications from the flu. Medicare now covers the cost at doctors’ offices and pharmacies.

The DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency offers support to the clinics. DeKalb EMA Director Anthony Clifton stressed the upcoming clinics make seasonal flu shots available to as many people as possible, unlike the July 28 drive-thru clinic held to specifically screen for undiagnosed cases of COVID-19. That earlier clinic focused on people with coronavirus symptoms or those notified of possible exposure through contract tracing.

“[At the flu clinic] You’ll drive up, fill out some basic paperwork on a clipboard -- mainly so we can determine any allergies and follow up if there is a bad reaction. You pull up to the next section, stick your arm outside your rolled down window, get the flu shot, then drive away,” Clifton said.

Coronavirus symptoms highly resemble flu symptoms and include cough or shortness of breath (difficulty breathing) or at least two of the following; fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, fatigue, congestion or runny nose, and new loss of taste or smell. The lack of a vaccine for the coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2), makes it so deadly.

Clifton said a flu shot can help reduce the burden on local healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and save medical resources for care of COVID-19 patients as the northern hemisphere heads into cold and flu season. Influenza infections typically peak between December and February, although activity can last as late as May.

Antibodies develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination, offering protection against the viruses that research suggests will be most common. Because the coronavirus outbreak began locally in mid-March, “we don’t know what flu season is going to look like during a pandemic and encourage as many people as possible to come get the flu shot.”

Recommended measures to prevent the spread of both the seasonal flu and COVID-19 include washing hands frequently, social distancing, staying home if you can and working remotely if possible, covering your mouth and nose with a face covering when around others, covering coughs and sneezes and disinfecting surfaces.

Benjamin Haynes, spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said, “it may be hard to tell the difference between flu and COVID-19 based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Every flu season is different, and influenza can affect people differently, but millions get flu every year, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands die from flu-related causes every year.”

To learn more about the 2020-2021 flu season and vaccinations, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu.

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