Published 12:02 am Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Covington County Health Department registered nurse Teresa Marshall prepares a syringe full of flu vaccination. | Kendra Bolling/Star-News

Locals who haven’t already received their flu vaccine are encouraged to do so today, health department officials said.

A flu vaccine clinic will be held beginning at 1 p.m. today at the Covington County Health Department, and will end at 5 p.m.

All residents 6 months and older are encouraged to get vaccinated.

The flu is a very contagious respiratory illness, and the Centers for Disease Control says the best way to combat or prevent the flu is to receive a yearly vaccination.

“We recommend you receive a flu vaccine regardless of whether you had one last year,” said Cindy McAlpin, CCHD nurse supervisor. “The CDC calls a yearly flu vaccine the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease.”

More people die from complications of the flu than any other vaccine-preventable disease, state health officials said. Most deaths occur in those more than 65 years of age.

Influenza vaccination is especially recommended for the following persons who are at higher risk of influenza-related complications:

• All children younger than 5 years of age, but especially children younger than 2 years;

• Adults 50 years of age and older, especially those 65 years and older;

• Adults and children with chronic disorders;

• Pregnant women;

• Children aged 6 months through 18 years on chronic aspirin therapy;

• Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities;

• Persons who are immunosuppressed;

• Health care workers;

• Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children less than 5 and adults 50

years of age and older; and

• People who are morbidly obese (those with a body mass index, or BMI, of 40 or greater;

There is a $5 charge per vaccination; however, for those who have Medicaid, Medicare, SEIB or PEEHIP insurance, the fee will be billed if cards are presented.