Flu season is upon us and opportunities are available to get your annual shot, free of charge.
This week, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, in conjunction with local partners across the state, will be offering free flu clinics for National Influenza Vaccination Week.
"As families prepare to get together for the holidays, it's a perfect time to remind people of the importance of getting vaccinated," state Secretary of Health Michael Wolf said in a press release.
In Warren County, a clinic will be offered at the Department of Public Safety Building, 100 Dillon Dr., Youngsville on Wednesday, Dec. 11 from 10 a.m. until noon, according to Department of Health Deputy Press Secretary Holli Senior.
Last year, Pennnsylvania had more than 40,000 reported cases of influenza resulting in more than 3,500 hospitalizations and over 200 deaths. Influenza activity usually picks up after Thanksgiving, through the holidays.
According to the Department of Health press release, the elderly, young children, pregnant women, individuals with chronic medical conditions and healthcare workers are especially high-risk for developing flu.
The Department of Health is also highlighting flu prevention through the Pennsylvania Department of Aging's PrimeTime Health program.
According to Lynn Espin, PrimeTime Health coordinator for Experience Inc., Area Agency on Aging for Warren and Forest Counties, "The PrimeTime Health program, offered through Experience Inc., focuses on health promotion and disease prevention activities for older Pennsylvanians. The PrimeTime Health flu shot clinics are scheduled September through November at all Warren - Forest Senior Centers, as well as senior housing facilities. The shots are free to Medicare Part B recipients. Others can self pay. The flu shot clinics are advertised in local papers, on local TV and in the "Voice of Experience" newsletter. The shots are administered by Warren General Hospital, Kane Home Health and the Visiting Nurses Association from Shippenville."
Espin also provided some insight into the rationale behind the program.
"They're (seniors) already there," she pointed out. "A lot of them are already coming in for activities or lunch at the senior center. I would say that's the biggest factor. It's a convenience factor. It can be hard for them to get out. It's just an easier way for them to get their shots."
According to the Department of Health press release, "Flu season typically runs from October through May, and often peaks between January and March, with an average of five to 20 percent of the U.S. population developing influenza each year."