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Patrons give clinic a shot

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Caroline Martinez hauled her three children to the Bartholomew County Health Department for flu shots. It’s Martinez’s method of keeping her family healthy.

“We’ve been here the last three years,” Martinez, 41, said. “We’ve never really had the flu ... knock on wood.”

With school out for fall break, it was convenient for the Martinez family and about 125 others to line up Tuesday at the local health

department, looking for a way to stop fevers, chills and sweats before they start.

About 200 people attended the department’s first clinic Oct. 3.

“The young are very susceptible” to the flu, said Carla Wolff, assistant director of the nursing division of the Bartholomew County Health Department.

Additionally, “If you’re an older person, you want to get (the shot),” she said.

Wolff witnessed the ill-effects of the flu while attending nursing school at Northern Iowa University in Cedar Falls. Her aunt, Martha Evans, spent three days in the hospital during Wolff’s time in college. Wolff never forgot the episode.

“When you see somebody that sick, it makes an impression,” said Wolff, 61.

Wolff suggests people see a doctor if they believe they have the flu, which seems about even this year in aggressiveness compared to past years.

Emma Smith, 64, started getting flu shots when she worked in the birthing center at Columbus Regional Hospital. She wanted to ensure the safety of her patients. She’s retired now, after 16 years with CRH, but still feels the need to protect not only herself but the overall community.

“If you do it en masse, the whole population is better protected,” she said.

  • The flu shots come in various forms and strengths for different ages:
  • Traditional vaccine for ages 6 months and older.
  • Intradermal vaccine with shorter needles for ages 18 through 65.
  •  Nasal spray vaccine for ages 2 through 49.

Martinez’s two youngest children, Kristen, 9, and Evan, 7, opted for the nasal spray.

“Because they offer the nasal mist, they’re more relaxed about it,” Martinez said.

Wolff maintains that getting a flu shot each year is the best way to avoid getting the virus. She said children 8 and younger receiving the vaccine for the first time typically get the shot twice during their first year. Flu shots take about two weeks before they reach their full effectiveness.

Wolff said there are other measures people can take to remain flu-free, but one stands above all the rest.

“The big thing is making sure you wash your hands on a routine basis,” she said, “especially any time you eat.”

If you go

  • The Bartholomew County Health Department will be offering its third and final in a series of flu-shot clinics from 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Oct. 18. Clinic location is 1971 State St.
  • Flu shots are $15, payable in cash only. There’s no charge for ages 6 months through 18 years old if citizens have no insurance or their insurance won’t cover the cost.
  • Donations are accepted. The service is for Bartholomew County residents.
  • Information: Call 379-1555, Option 1.

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