As the weather begins to cool and we look forward to the beautiful lights of the holiday, it is time for us to begin thinking of what we can do to avoid the dreaded flu and keep our families healthy.

On the average between 5 and 20 percent of the U.S. Population develops influenza, commonly called the flu, each year. This leads to more than 200,000 hospitalizations from related complications. Flu-related deaths vary yearly, ranging from a low of about 3,000 to a high of 49,000 people.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 2017-2018 flu season starts in late October and can last for more than six months. The best prevention to getting the flu is to get a vaccination in late September or early October. It is recommended that all individuals 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine. Vaccinations are especially important for people at higher risk of flu, for example, healthcare professionals, children younger than six and people over 65.

The most common problem associated with the flu shot are mild and they include: soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given; hoarseness; sore, red or itchy eyes; cough; fever; aches; headache; itching; or fatigue. If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after the shot and last 1-2 days. If they persist longer, tell your doctor.

The Newton County Health Department still has Flu Shots available at their clinic from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at their county office in Jasper. If you are needed more information about the opportunity for flu shots, please contact the Newton County Health Department at 446-2216 or the Newton County Extension Office at 446-2240. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity, equal access and affirmative action institution.

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