County offering flu shots

Published: Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

With the number of influenza cases rising throughout Florida, the Alachua County Health Department is holding a special flu vaccination clinic from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today.

Sherry Windom, the county's immunization program coordinator, said Friday that although cases of flu have been sporadic in North Central Florida, influenza is widespread in other parts of the state, as well as Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

A Tampa fourth-grader caught the flu and died over winter break. Hers is the first recorded death in the state this flu season.

"With our student population returning from all over the state, the possibilities of increased influenza are heightened here for the next month," said health department Director Tom Belcuore.

University of Florida students will return to classes Monday.

"The window of opportunity is wide open," Windom added.

Vaccinations through the health department cost $20; there is no charge for those with Medicare coverage. The clinic is being held at the main facility, 224 SE 24th St. in Gainesville.

Flu season generally peaks in January and begins to taper off by early March. It takes about two weeks for the antibodies in the flu vaccine to develop and provide maximum protection.

Each year, the flu kills some 36,000 people nationwide, with children under the age of 5 and adults over 60 most at risk.

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