Get Your Free* Flu Shot Today

With the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic still ongoing, it may be more important than ever to get your flu shot – and get it early. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone get their flu shot within the next six weeks.

As seasonal flu overlaps with Covid-19, there may be a surge of sick patients, crowding doctors’ offices, and putting additional pressure on hospitals already treating Covid-19 patients. Researchers are still working on a Covid-19 vaccine, but there is already an effective flu vaccine.

Call 888-710-8220 to make an appointment at Healthy Connections clinics in Little Rock, Hot Springs, Mena, Malvern, Arkadelphia, Mount Ida, or De Queen. Visit to find a location near you. Healthy Connections accepts Medicaid, ARKids 1st, Medicare, and most other health insurance. There is also a sliding-fee scale for patients without insurance who qualify.

Healthy Connections is giving flu vaccinations at all of its Community Health Network clinics throughout Arkansas. *Most patients are eligible to receive the flu shot at no cost depending on their health insurance coverage. Patients who are insured through the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Part B, or most other health insurance plans should be able to get the flu vaccine for free. However, before you go, remember that you may still have to pay for the office visit, depending on your coverage. Healthy Connections sliding fee patients will receive their flu shot for $25.

“During the Coronavirus pandemic, everyone needs to get the flu shot – and get it earlier in the year,” said Tony Calandro, CEO of Healthy Connections, Inc. “We are doing our part by making access to the vaccine easier for patients. Our clinics are open for convenient before- and after-work appointments, and even evening appointments at some locations.”

Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and even the risk of flu-related death in children.

The CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine before flu viruses begin spreading in the community since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for the antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu. Children who need two doses of vaccine to te be protected should start the vaccination process sooner because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.

The CDC reports the benefits of the flu vaccination include:

  • It can keep you from getting sick with the flu. During some flu seasons, the vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor by between 40 and 60 percent.
  • It can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization for children, working-age adults, and older adults. In recent years, flu vaccines have reduced the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations among older people on average by 40 percent.
  • It is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions. The vaccination can reduce worsening and hospitalization for flu-related chronic lung disease, such as persons with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • It helps protect women during and after pregnancy. Several studies have shown that in addition to helping protect pregnant women, a flu vaccine given during pregnancy helps protect the baby from flu for several months after birth when he or she is not old enough to be vaccinated.
  • It can be lifesaving in children. A 2017 study showed that flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from the flu.
  • It has been shown to reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick. A 2017 study showed that flu vaccination reduced deaths, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, ICU length of stay, and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized flu patients.
  • It can protect not only yourself but the people around you. This could include babies, young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.

Learn more about the flu and the flu vaccination by visiting for more information.

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Flu, Cold, Allergies, or Covid-19?

Do I have seasonal flu or Covid-19? Or is it just the common cold or allergies? It’s a question our Healthy Connections providers are frequently asked – especially right now.

Similar symptoms exist for all four conditions – especially Covid-19 and flu – making it hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Diagnostic testing can help determine if you are sick with a cold, the flu, Covid-19, or just experiencing seasonal allergies.

Call 888-710-8220 to make an appointment with a Healthy Connections primary care provider. Find a central or western Arkansas location near you by visiting


Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults


The differences are slight but can be telling. Flu viruses can cause mild to severe illness, including common signs and symptoms associated with both. Covid-19 can differ from the flu with other signs and symptoms that include a change in or loss of taste or smell.

Most people who get flu will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death. Learn more about the flu at

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Learn more about Covid-19 at

If you think you may have either the flu or Covid-19, Healthy Connections can test you at any of our central and western Arkansas clinics. Call 888-710-8220 for appointments. Or visit to find the clinic nearest to you.

The common cold also has some similar symptoms to Covid-19 and seasonal flu. Cold symptoms include a mild cough, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, short fever period, and body aches and pains.

Allergy symptoms may have some of those symptoms but rarely include a cough.

Flu Vaccination

At this time, there is no vaccine for Covid-19. But there is a seasonal flu vaccine. Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever during 2020-2021 to protect yourself, your friends, and your family. It could also help reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Flu shots are now available at the Healthy Connections clinic location near you. We’ve taken steps to make your visit safe and convenient, so you can feel good about protecting yourself and your loved ones.

Your flu shot may be done at no cost to you. If you are insured through the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Part B, or most other health insurance plans, you should be able to get your flu shot for free. However, before you go, remember that you may still have to pay for the office visit, depending on your coverage. Call 888-710-8220 for more information.

It is recommended that everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season (with rare exceptions). Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from the flu.

The flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and death.

August Employees of the Month

The lantern shines bright for our August 2020 Healthy Connections employees of the month:

West: Carolyn Alexander

East: Kristen West

As Employees of the Month, they are entitled to either a $50 gift card or one day off.

Throughout August, both Carolyn and Kristen exemplified our Healthy Connections three pillars of Excellence, Compassion, and Community.

Carolyn is a patient care coordinator with Evolve Behavioral Health and Medication Management and is based in Mena. Kristen is a patient care coordinator with the Healthy Connections pediatrics clinic in Hot Springs.

Check out what Carolyn’s co-workers had to say about her:

  • “Carolyn volunteers to help in any way she can and always gives her best effort to do a great job and serve our patients well. Carolyn always has a positive attitude and is pleasant to work with.”
  • “She works so hard to make sure everything and everyone is taken care of and then on top of that she helps out in other areas in Healthy Connections. We, the Evolve Behavioral Health team would not know what to do without her.”

And Kristen’s co-workers said this about her:

  • “Kristen always greets patients with a smile and helps them feel welcome. She works hard making sure that all of pediatrics runs as smoothly as possible. She always takes care of whatever is needed for each of her providers. She is a great coworker and is a pleasure to work with.”
  • “Kristen has proven over and over to be a team player. Patients frequently comment to me about how kind and helpful she was when they called or needed something, or when she checked them in. We’re all so blessed here at Central to have a “Kristen” on our team.”

Do you know who should be our next Healthy Connections Employees of the month? You can nominate them at

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.


Suicidal thoughts, much like mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or background. In fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition. Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues.

Every year thousands of individuals die by suicide, leaving behind their friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of loss. In many cases, friends and families affected by a suicide loss (often called “suicide loss survivors”) are left in the dark. Too often the feelings of shame and stigma prevent them from talking openly.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month—a time to share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic. We use this month to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness, and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services. It is also important to ensure that individuals, friends, and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention.

Crisis Resources

  • If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately.
  • If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
  • If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.

Evolve Behavioral Health and Medication Management offers mental health resources in Arkansas. Our trained therapists and nurses are based at clinics in Little Rock, Hot Springs, Mena, Malvern, Arkadelphia, Mount Ida, and De Queen.

Call 800-409-6250 for appointments with Evolve. Visit for more information.