The Jefferson County Health Unit will give flu vaccines from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, during a mass flu clinic at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.


It is important to get a flu vaccine annually because the flu virus changes from year to year, according to a news release from the local health unit, a part of the Arkansas Department of Health. This year’s vaccine protects against the flu viruses that are expected to cause the most illness this season.


“If you have insurance, the ADH will ask your insurance to pay for the cost of giving the vaccine. If you do not have insurance or your insurance company does not pay, the vaccine will be available at no charge to you,” a spokesman said.


Certain people are more likely to have serious health complications if they get the flu. This includes older people, young children, pregnant women, people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), and people who live in nursing homes, the spokesman said.


“Last year’s flu season was the worst in Arkansas in terms of flu deaths in the last three decades. This is a reminder that flu is not an illness that should be taken lightly,” said Dirk Haselow, M.D., state epidemiologist at ADH. “Many Arkansans have lost loved ones to the flu. Before you decide to skip the flu vaccine, think about those who care about you or count on you.”


According to the spokesman, the flu vaccine is safe and doesn’t cause the flu.


“Some people may have mild soreness and redness near the site of the shot and a low fever or slight headache,” the spokesman said. “There are very few medical reasons to skip the flu vaccine. They include life-threatening allergic reactions to a previous dose of the flu vaccine or to eggs, or a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome. People with a non-life-threatening egg allergy may be vaccinated but need to see a doctor specializing in allergies.”


Visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov for details and for schedules of flu clinics in each county.