Last year, there were 227 flu-related deaths reported in Arkansas. Last week, the health department announced that one Arkansan has died from flu-related symptoms during this flu season.
Since Sept. 30, 2018, over 150 positive influenza tests have been reported in 21 counties.
The majority of reports came from Independence, Saline, Benton, Pulaski, Craighead, Drew, Faulkner, Franklin, Hempstead, Sebastian and Sevier.
It is important to get a flu vaccine every year, because the flu virus changes from year to year. This year’s vaccine protects against the flu viruses that are expected to cause the most illness this flu season.
The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is providing flu vaccines across the state in preparation for the 2018-19 flu season. Each county health unit in Arkansas will be hosting a mass flu vaccine clinic, which is typically a day-long event when the health unit and numerous community volunteers come together to provide flu vaccine to as many people as possible. (The Columbia County clinic has already been held.)
People should bring their insurance cards with them to the flu vaccine clinic. If anyone does not have insurance, or the insurance does not cover flu vaccine, the vaccine will be available at no charge. Please contact the nearest local health unit for information about mass flu clinics. Local health unit contact information can be found at www.healthy.arkansas.gov.
People of all ages can get the flu. Certain people are more likely to have serious health problems if they get the flu. This includes older adults, young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions, people who smoke, and people who live in nursing homes. Therefore, the health department strongly recommends that people in these groups get a flu vaccine.
It is also recommended that friends, family members and people who provide care to people in these groups also get a vaccine—not only to protect themselves, but also to decrease the possibility that they might expose the people they love and care for to the flu.