St. Catherine Foundation rolling out mobile free flu shot clinics

(GARDEN CITY, KAN.) After seeing the popularity of its drive-thru flu shot clinic last fall, the St. Catherine Hospital Development Foundation is taking its flu-fighting efforts out into the community in advance of this year’s influenza season.

Thanks in part to a pair of $4,000 grants from the City of Garden City and the Western Kansas Community Foundation, respectively, the St. Catherine Foundation and hospital associates will be offering a series of mobile flu shot clinics October 14 through 18 in a variety of locations around Garden City.

The foundation’s clinic on wheels will be visiting Meals on Wheels customers October 14 through 16, students at Garden City Community College on October 16 and will offer free flu vaccines to the community at St. Mary Catholic Church on October 17 and Charles O. Stones Intermediate Center on October 18. In all, 500 free flu shots will be made available through the clinics.

“It wouldn’t have been possible to offer this many vaccines without the grant funding from the City of Garden City and Western Kansas Community Foundation,” said Paige Kraus, stewardship coordinator for the St. Catherine Hospital Development Foundation. “They really believed in this cause and wanted to be a part of it, and we’re honored to partner with them.”

Last year’s free flu shot effort was more modest – 100 vaccines were provided in a drive-thru clinic at Centura Health’s Convenient Care Clinic, 2051 E. Mary St. But organizers came to realize that many people lacked the transportation to get to the clinic, and the idea to reach out with mobile clinics was born.

Through this year’s effort, the clinics will offer free flu shots at the following times and locations:

  • Meals on Wheels routes 1-3, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, October 14.
  • Meals on Wheels routes 4-6, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, October 15.
  • Penka Building parking lot, GCCC campus, 8 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, October 16
  • Meals on Wheels routes 7-8, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, October 16.
  • St. Mary Catholic Church, 509 St. John St., 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday, October 17 (open to the public).
  • Charles O. Stones Intermediate Center, 401 N. Jennie Barker Road, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, October 18 (open to the public).

Meals on Wheels customers can arrange to have the mobile flu clinic visit their residences when their daily meals are delivered on those days. GCCC students who show their student ID when the mobile clinic comes to campus can receive flu shots on a first-come, first served basis as supplies last.

Kraus said the St. Mary and Charles O. Stones locations were chosen so the clinics, which are open to the public, could reach residents on both the west and east sides of the city.

“The whole community is invited, and we just wanted to make it as convenient as possible for them,” Kraus said about the two community clinics.
 

What is the flu?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu viruses spread primarily through droplets made when people cough, sneeze or talk. Less often, a person also might get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or nose.

Flu signs and symptoms can include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults

Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and those with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.
 

Why do I need a flu shot?

Amanda Mullet, occupational health coordinator at St. Catherine Hospital, considers annual flu vaccinations to be a critical component of flighting the spread of flu in the community.

“People say I don’t need to get the flu shot because, ‘I don’t get sick,’ or ‘I’ve never had the flu.’ But the main thing is not just protecting yourself but other people around you, too. So, if you’re immune system is strong, you might not get the flu, but you can still carry the flu,” Mullet said. “If you’re out in the community, I just think it’s better that everybody has their flu shots because that’s less chance of being exposed.”

Mullet also dispels some of the myths surrounding flu vaccines, with the primary one being that you can’t get the flu from the vaccine.

“It’s a dead vaccine, not a live vaccine, and so if you happen to get sick after you got the flu shot it’s because you were gonna get sick anyway,” Mullet said. “It does take two weeks from when you get the flu shot for those antibodies to actually build up in your system, so you’re not automatically immune as soon as you get it.”

According to Mullet, flu-shot recipients could experience the following side effects:

  • Soreness, redness and some swelling where the shot was given
  • Mild flu-like symptoms for one to two days after receiving the shot
  • Low-grade fever
  • Body aches, headaches and general fatigue one to two days after receiving the shot.

The CDC recommends annual flu vaccinations for everyone age 6 months and older. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk of influenza complications, including pregnant women, older adults and young children. Children 6 months to 8 years old may need two doses of the flu vaccine, given at least four weeks apart, to be fully protected.

Chronic medical conditions also can increase risk of influenza complications. Examples include:

  • Asthma
  • Cancer or cancer treatment
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Diabetes
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Obesity
     

Who shouldn't get a flu shot?

Check with your doctor before receiving a flu vaccine if:

  • You're allergic to eggs. Most types of flu vaccines contain a small amount of egg protein. If you have a mild egg allergy, you can receive the flu shot without any additional precautions. If you have a severe egg allergy, you should be vaccinated in a medical setting and be supervised by a doctor who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions. There are also flu vaccines that don't contain egg proteins, and are Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for use in people 18 and older. Consult your doctor about your options.
  • You had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccine. The flu vaccine isn't recommended for anyone who had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccine. Check with your doctor first, though as some reactions might not be related to the vaccine.


Preventing the spread of the flu

According to the CDC, people can take the following preventive actions to stop the spread of germs:

  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.

For more information on the St. Catherine Hospital Development Foundation’s free flu clinics, please contact Paige Kraus at 620.272.2376 or PaigeKraus@Centura.Org.

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BrettRiggs@Centura.org

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