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County Health Department Offering Series of Free Flu-Shot Clinics

The clinics will target those age 60 or older or younger residents with a doctor's verification of chronic illness

Flu season is approaching, and vaccination is the best method for preventing influenza and its severe complications.

Flu season usually starts in October and continues through early spring, with peak activity in January and February. Unlike many other viral respiratory infections, such as the common cold, the flu can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications. Each year in the United States, an average of 36,000 people die, and more than 200,000 are hospitalized from flu-related complications.

This fall, with the H1N1 flu virus circulating in addition to regular seasonal flu, it is important to get a flu shot as soon as the vaccine becomes available. When the H1N1 flu vaccine becomes available (most likely in late October), get that vaccination as well in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department will hold a series of free community seasonal flu clinics targeting people older than age 60 and for younger individuals with a doctor’s verification of chronic illness:

» Santa Maria: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 8 at Oasis Senior Center, 420 Soares St.

» Santa Barbara: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 13 at Franklin Community Center, 1136 E. Montecito St.

» Lompoc: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 15 at Lompoc Senior Center, 125 W. Walnut Ave.

» Goleta: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 20 at Goleta Valley Community Center, 5679 Hollister Ave.

» Cuyama: 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Oct. 22 at Cuyama Clinic, 4711 Highway 166

» Carpinteria: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 28 at Veterans Hall, 941 Walnut Ave.

» Buellton: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 29 at Buellton Senior Center, 164 W. Highway 246

In addition, FluMist nasal spray vaccine will be offered at the clinics to nonpregnant, healthy 2- to 49-year-olds who do not have a history of wheezing or asthma.

The CDC strongly encourages high-risk individuals to get vaccinated with a seasonal flu vaccine, including:

» Children ages 6 months to 18 years

» Contacts and caregivers of children less than 6 months of age

» Anyone older than 50 years of age

» All women who will be pregnant during the flu season

» Adults and children who have chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, hematological or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus)

» Adults and children who have immunosuppression

» Residents of nursing homes and chronic-care facilities

» Anyone living with or caring for anyone in the above categories

» All health-care personnel

Click here for more information on H1N1 flu, or call the toll-free hot line at 888.722.6358.

— Susan Klein-Rothschild is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

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