Flu epidemic prompts ADH to provide free flu shots
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – The flu in Arkansas is showing no signs of slowing down as doctors say we are still a couple months from the end of the season.
The Arkansas Department of Health said it is so concerned with the severity that they are now offering free flu shots. Anyone can go to one of the health department's 95 clinics and get a shot at no cost.
"We're taking a proactive approach to make sure that flu shots are available as possible,” Epidemiologist Dirk Haselow said.
Haselow said with multiple different strains going around, the department wants to ensure everyone has a built-up immune system.
"It's very unlikely to get the same strain twice. But there are several other strains going around,” Haselow said.
Haselow said even if you've had the flu already, you can still catch it again.
"You can get two different strains at the same time and you can get concurrent, dual infection,” he said. “The dominate strain we’re seeing going around the state is H3. But nearly a third are influenza B.”
Pediatrician Chad Rodgers said this is the worst flu season he’s seen in 15 years.
"We had a lot of people earlier in the season that had influenza A and now we're seeing a lot of kids with influenza B and it’s just made the season that much longer,” Rodgers said.
He also recommends young children get a second dose of the flu shot. Children under one should have already received two doses.
"Anyone who is having their flu shot for the first time under the age of nine, probably needs a booster. If they've never had a flu vaccine before they need to get one and a booster about a month later,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers said kids under two are much more at risk of getting complication from the flu such as pneumonia. He said this is why it’s so important to get that second dose.
"Just like with any immunization, the first time you get a shot, your body produces some immunity but it’s that booster shot that really boosts immunity and makes it strong,” he said.
You can find a local health unit offering free flu shots near you here.