It’s that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, the weather a little cooler. Fall sports are in full swing. And soon, so will be the flu.
Influenza, or flu, is a highly contagious virus spread by inhaling droplets from an infected individual’s cough or sneeze. Most symptoms emerge within 24 to 48 hours and are characterized by fever, chills, sore throat, cough and headache.
The flu can have disastrous consequences, especially for those who are at a higher risk for complications, according to Dr. Stephen Waters, Medical Director and a family practitioner with Atlantic General Health System. In some cases, the flu virus invades the lungs and becomes bronchitis or pneumonia.
Influenza and resulting complications kill an estimated 36,000 people each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Although rates of influenza vaccinations have increased in recent years, health surveys indicate that less than half of the high-risk population receives a yearly vaccine.
Those at an increased risk for influenza related complications:
- persons 65 years and older
- nursing home residents and other chronic care facilities
- adults and children with chronic disorders of the pulmonary or cardiovascular systems, including children with asthma
- people with metabolic diseases such as diabetes
- those with blood diseases like sickle cell anemia, or impaired immunity.
Children and teenagers on long-term aspirin therapy and anyone working or living with someone in a high-risk category should get a flu shot every year.
The vaccine is usually given before the flu season and can be given by your health care provider or at one of the free immunization clinics that will be provided by Atlantic General Hospital and the Atlantic General Health System.
Immunity isn’t permanent, said Dr. Waters. Since flu viruses mutate often, vaccines should be repeated each year. The vaccine is made from eggs. If you are allergic to eggs, consult with your health care provider.
As a service to our community’s health, Atlantic General Hospital/Health System annul flu shot clinics are FREE to the community. Individuals must be at least 13 years old to receive the vaccine at one of the free clinics.
This year the hospital and health system has scheduled the clinics as follows:
ATLANTIC GENERAL HOSPITAL’S MAIN LOBBY
9733 Healthway Drive, Berlin
- Saturday, October 18, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Saturday, October 25, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Saturday, November 1, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Saturday, November 15, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
SNOW HILL, MD
FULTON SENIOR CENTER, SNOW HILL BRANCH
4767 Snow Hill Road, Snow Hill
- Friday, October 31, 8 a.m. – 12 noon
TAYLOR BANK, SNOW HILL BRANCH
108 West Market Street, Snow Hill
- Wednesday, November 5, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
TOWNSEND MEDICAL CENTER (10th STREET)
1001 Philadelphia Avenue, Ocean City
- Thursday, November 6, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
OCEAN CITY CONVENTION CENTER
4001 Coastal Highway, Ocean City
- Thursday, November 6, 12 noon – 2 p.m.
OCEAN VIEW, DE
OFFICE OF DR. BARBARA SOCHA
96 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 103, Ocean View, Delaware
- Saturday, October 25, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
* Must be at least 18 years old to receive the vaccine at this location
THE NEW POCOMOKE FIRE STATION
1410 MARKET ST., POCOMOKE, MD
- Thursday, November 11, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
* Please use 14th Street Entrance
Hospital officials urge you to schedule an appointment with your primary care provider, or see a provider at the hospital’s same-day appointment center located in Berlin to receive your flu shot. Influenza season will be here before you know it and the clinics are offered to enable our community to take preventative measures by taking a few minutes to get a flu shot.
The flu vaccine is also available at all Atlantic General Health System physician offices. To schedule an appointment with an AGH provider to receive your flu shot, call the Centralized Scheduling Line at 410-641-1082. For more information on the Atlantic General Hospital Free Flu Shot Clinics, contact Atlantic General Hospital at 410-641-9FLU (9358).
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