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 www.healthy-connections.org/locations 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 www.healthy-connections.org/flu for more information.

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