Doctors: Now is time to get your flu shot

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Natchez &8212; With fall&8217;s cooler weather come coughs and sniffles, so Miss-Lou doctors recommend influenza vaccines.

The Adams County Health Department is administering $27 flu shots from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

&8220;We recommend them for everybody, especially anybody with a history of chronic illness,&8221; Margaret Stutzman with the health department said Tuesday.

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Stutzman said the department would administer shots as long as they have them.

&8220;We&8217;re not having a serious problem getting them,&8221; she said. &8220;Last year, we had vaccines until June.&8221;

Dr. Tuan Pham, a family medicine practitioner at Family Medicine Specialists of Natchez, said because they had a limited supply of vaccines his office was giving flu shots to those at risk &8212; the elderly and those with diabetes, kidney disorder, lung disease or heart trouble.

&8220;So far, I personally have not seen any cases of the flu, but it can be very sporadic,&8221; Pham said. &8220;Once a person gets it, it can be spread fast.&8221;

Pham recommended people get vaccinated in October and November before the flu season really started.

&8220;It can decrease the chances of catching the flu,&8221; Pham said. &8220;It&8217;s also a good idea to wash your hands, stay away from sick people &8212; very basic things.&8221;

Dr. Lee England, an internal medicine practitioner, said he regularly saw patients with the flu just after the first frost.

&8220;Based on what I&8217;ve seen, it looks like it&8217;s starting more quickly than usual,&8221; England said. &8220;It may be more intense than usual, but it&8217;s hard to tell for sure because it comes in waves.&8221;

If someone gets the flu, England recommended they keep down the fever with acetaminophen and drink plenty of fluids.

People should also try to prevent contact with those already infected, he said.

&8220;If you&8217;re around others that have it, it&8217;s best to wash your hands a lot,&8221; he said. &8220;A lot more is transmitted than people realize. And anytime you sneeze or cough, it&8217;s best to do so into a handkerchief or Kleenex.&8221;

If a patient wanted to get vaccinated, he said, they should call the doctor&8217;s office ahead of time because supplies have been intermittent.

According to a press release, the Mobile Unit from Alcorn State University School of Nursing will be administering flu shots from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Saturday at the Natchez Farmers Market.

The cost of the flu shot will be $ 27.00.

Licensed practical nurse Lana Hawkins said the Concordia Community Health Center is stocked with over 100 doses of the flu vaccine and is offering them on a first come-first serve basis free of charge.

The center is offering the shots from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and from 12 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Hawkins said.

Hawkins said the center is also seeing patients with cold and flu-like symptoms.

&8220;We usually see some patients with bronchitis and sinus congestion about this time of year too but there&8217;s nothing you can do for that,&8221; Hawkins said. &8220;But if you take care of the other symptoms such as cold and upper respiratory symptoms, you can prevent the flu.&8221;

Hawkins said the number one thing people could do to prevent the spread of the flu virus is thoroughly wash their hands.

&8220;It also helps if, on cold days, people take care to dress warm, covering their head and body,&8221; she said.

Nursing Supervisor Mary Spann said the Concordia Parish Health Unit has given 78 flu shots since Nov. 17 and still has over 400 doses.

But Spann said the health unit was only seeing high risk patients first, which includes children, ages six months to five years old and persons 50 years and older.

&8220;We also advise that people with chronic illnesses come in and get their flu shots too,&8221; Spann said.

Starting Dec. 4, Spann said the unit would start giving vaccinations to anyone in the parish.

Spann said the unit was accepting patients on a walk in basis.

Spann said the cost of the shot was $10 based on income but if a patient was a Medicaid or Medicare card carrier, or if they do not have the income to purchase the vaccine, then the shot is free.

Spann said people could receive shots from 8 to 11 a.m., Monday through Friday.