Madison County’s Preventative Flu Measures Leave Much to Be Desired

In years past, Madison County, Alabama has distributed free flu shots at clinics throughout the area. However, this year, administrators are questioning where the clinics will be held and how effective the County’s preventative measures will be as a result. The confusion is raising serious concerns in the midst of the global outbreak of Ebola, which the CDC has called less of a threat than the more innocuous flu virus.

On Friday, October 3, Health Department officials reported that a shipment of 2,500 doses of the flu vaccine arrived in Madison County. However, the Health Department also stated that a schedule has yet to be made to determine when and where the vaccinations will be offered. Unfortunately, the Department of Public Health has added that the free clinics may only be held at the Madison County Department of Health building. This could have a dramatic effect on the county’s protection against the flu, since county district offices also offered the vaccinations in previous years, allowing greater public access to them. One such office administered as many as 500 shots last year.

The Public Health Department says that a shortage of clinic staff is behind the decrease in free clinics. However, other county staff members have suggested that recent budget cuts, which deducted $200,000 from the Health Department, could also have changed this year’s set up. Currently, the Health Department has yet to confirm whether this is the case.

While much of the public’s consciousness is currently focused on Ebola, the deadly virus spreading through West Africa, a number of healthcare organizations have expressed concern that Americans may not be taking the upcoming flu season seriously. While the World Health Organization reports that around 4,555 deaths have been attributed to Ebola worldwide, the CDC estimates there are anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 flu-related deaths every year. And unlike Ebola, which experts say is unlikely to spread throughout the U.S., the flu is an airborne virus, which increases its level of transference.

The flu season typically begins in October and lasts until March. Due to the severity of the virus, it is strongly recommended that people visit a doctor’s office, urgent care center, or free flu clinic for a vaccination. If you start showing systems, schedule an appointment with your doctor or visit an urgent care clinic, which treat everything from nausea to flu symptoms, immediately.