Troops, families encouraged to get flu shots

Story and photo by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

FRANKFORT, Ky. — It’s that time of year again.  No, we’re not talking about “turkey day” or Black Friday or the impending arrival of Santa Claus.  Nope, nothing as glamorous as that.

We’re talking flu season.

No tears: Sgt. Thomas Shaddix administers a flu shot to Sgt. 1st Class Steve Sztanya.

Already Kentucky Department for Public Health officials have reported the state’s first lab-confirmed case of influenza for the season. The case was from Jessamine County.

Luckily, Kentucky’s flu activity is currently classified as “sporadic,” the lowest level of flu activity.

How can you avoid becoming a statistic?

“That’s easy,” said Kentucky National Guard Capt. Stephanie Fields, Kentucky Army National Guard Deputy State Surgeon.  “Get your flu shot.”

This isn’t new news.  We go through this every year.  The flu season can begin as early as October and last through May and usually peaks between January and March. January is still a good month to be vaccinated for flu because it takes about two weeks for immunity to develop and offer protection against flu. However, vaccination can be given any time during the flu season. Local health departments and private health care providers are expected to have adequate supplies of flu vaccine on hand for this year’s season.

For Kentucky Army Guard troops it’s the responsibility of Health Services to forecast the need for vaccines, put in the request and distribute them throughout all major commands and subordinate units.  Staff Sgt. Gary Hale is the guy who gets all this done.

“We started this back in September when we received our initial shipment of 5,500 vaccinations,” said Hale.  “Two thousand were injections and the rest were intranasal.”

It’s the unit responsibility to administer that vaccinations.

“Our goal is to get ninety percent of all Kentucky Army Guard members vaccinated by the first of December,” said Fields.  “We want to get one hundred percent by the end of the year.”

Family members, retirees and veterans are encouraged to contact their health care provider or local health department for more information.  Here are some places where you can get your vaccination:

Local hospitals and clinics – some charge as little as $10-20 per shot. Check in your local community for more information.

Insurance company – Many insurance companies provide free or reduced immunizations. Check your policy to see if you are eligible.

Grocery stores, drug stores, and retailers – Many stores that see a lot of foot traffic offer customers a way to get inexpensive flu shots. This is a great way for them to increase their traffic, and the stores’ management know that when people come for a flu shot, they are also likely to spend money shopping.

Employer – Many companies and employers provide free or discounted flu shots because the cost is much less expensive that the lost productivity of people missing several days for the flu.

Airports – Some airports now offer flu shots as a way to reach the travelers.

Click here for more information from TRICARE on the flu vaccination.

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