October marks beginning of flu immunization season

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The actual flu season doesn’t start till later in the fall, but the flu immunization season is already in full swing. The local school district and New Mexico Department of Health Socorro office are planning immunization clinics targeting both children and adults.

Older adults are not the only ones who need to get flu vaccinations, says Socorro school district nurse Stephanie Debrine. Kids need to get vaccinated so they don’t spread the flu to very young children or adults with compromised immune systems. Even though flu is normally a mild disease, it can be deadly, especially for the very young or old, Debrine said.

“We’re vaccinating kids now. Last year, we had the fewest number of flu cases ever,” Debrine said. “Our flu rate is very low because we have been having school vaccination clinics for the past three years. We are above the national vaccination rate for children.” The current vaccine protects against both the regular seasonal flu and the H1N1 virus, she said.

Spray okay for kids, young adults

Most children and younger adults can skip the shots. According to the Centers for Disease Control, healthy people ages 2 through 49 can get the nasal-spray flu vaccine instead. Pregnant women, people with health problems and older adults have to stick with the shots.

County-wide immunization clinics

Oct. 2 marked the second annual drive-through flu shot clinic, Ruth Guin said. The New Mexico Public Health Office offers the drive-through clinic at the Neel Street location once a year. By late morning Wednesday, about 100 adults had gotten their shots without even having to leave their cars.

Marcella Wolf made a spur-of-moment decision to stop at the clinic for her yearly flu shot.

“It’s quick and easy,” she said. “The people are friendly, and you don’t even have to get out of your car. This is the first time I’ve done the drive-through. I was just on my way when I saw it.”

The Socorro Public Health Office on Neel Street will offer free walk-in clinics for children and adults beginning Tuesday Oct. 9, Guin said. People do not need to make an appointment, and there is no charge, even if the family has insurance coverage. Walk-in clinics will be scheduled during regular business hours, except for lunch time. To find out the schedule, call 835-0971.

The New Mexico Department of Health is sponsoring a special community health fair at La Promesa School in the northern part of the county from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27, Guin said. Free flu immunizations will be available as well as information about other health topics.

Flu Spooktacular Oct. 31

The Flu Spooktacular is a special all-day community health event at the Neel Street office, Guin said. It’s aimed at children, but adults will be welcomed, Besides Halloween-themed activities, the event will feature an immunization clinic where nurses will be giving kids and adults nasal spray or inoculations against the flu.

For more information about the health fair or the Spooktacular, call the New Mexico Department of Health Socorro office at 835-0971.