If thoughts of the pending flu season come to mind with October winding down and the federal government shutdown dragging on, rest assured there will be an opportunity to receive a flu shot.

On Oct. 25 in Booneville the Logan County Health Unit of the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) will be providing seasonal flu shots at First Baptist Church from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) and local school districts statewide are again offering the seasonal flu vaccine to school children in grades K-12.

In Booneville the shots will be offered on Tuesday, Oct. 29. Shots were offered in Magazine yesterday.

Health Department officials say it is important to get flu vaccine every year, because different strains of the flu are in circulation every year. This year’s vaccine protects against the flu viruses that research indicates will cause the most illness during the upcoming season.

If you have insurance, the ADH will ask your insurance company to pay for the cost of giving the vaccine. If you do not have insurance or your insurance company does not pay, the vaccine will be made available to you at no charge.

Paula Beaty, Logan County Health Unit Administrator said, "The flu shot is our best protection against the flu. Not only do you protect yourself from illness and lost time at work, but it is the best way to protect your own family and your community from the flu this year."

Certain people are at greater risk for serious complications if they get the flu. This includes older people, young children, pregnant women, people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), and people who live in facilities like nursing homes.

Flu is an illness that infects the nose, throat, and lungs and is caused by the influenza virus. If you’re young and healthy, the flu vaccine may be 70 to 90 percent effective in preventing illness.

"The flu is not a mild illness," said Dirk Haselow, M.D., State Epidemiologist at ADH. "It infects, sickens, and kills more people each year than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined."

Over the last 50 years, flu vaccines have been shown to be safe. The 2013 vaccine simply contains a slightly different strain of flu virus and is made exactly like all previous seasonal influenza vaccines. An average of 100 million doses of influenza vaccine has been used in the United States each year, and flu vaccines have an excellent safety record.

The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. Reactions to all flu vaccines might include mild soreness and redness near the site of the shot and perhaps a little fever or slight headache. The mist form of the vaccine is recommended for everyone between the ages of two years through 49 years of age who do not have asthma or other problems that might impair their immune system.

There are very few medical reasons to avoid the flu vaccine. They include life-threatening allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis to a previous dose of the flu vaccine or to eggs, or a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome. Persons with a non-life threatening egg allergy may be vaccinated but need to see a doctor specializing in allergies.

Influenza symptoms include fever over 100 degrees, headache, feeling tired, sore throat, muscle aches, dry cough, runny or stuffy nose, and occasionally stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

The influenza virus is spread through coughing or sneezing and by touching a hard surface with the virus on it and then touching the nose or mouth. The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year, practice good hand washing, and cover your cough.

Seasonal flu vaccine is not required for children to attend school, but it is highly recommended. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) recommend everyone aged 6 months and older receive a seasonal flu vaccine every year. Seasonal flu causes children to miss school and their parents to miss work.

Both the nasal mist form and the injectable form of the flu vaccine will be available to children at school clinics this year. The injectable form of vaccine will be given to children who are unable to take the mist form. Children who are unable to take the mist form are those: less than two years of age; who have asthma; who have an underlying health condition or other conditions that prevent them from having the nasal form.

School children will be bringing home a consent form with the date that the vaccine will be given and a fact sheet about the seasonal flu vaccine. If parents want their children to receive the vaccine, they must sign and return the form. Children will not be able to receive the vaccine without signed parental permission.

For your child to receive the flu vaccine, you must:

1. Read the Vaccine Information Statement for the vaccine.

2. Read and complete the front and back of the ADH consent form.

3. Print clearly all information required on ADH consent form.

4. Make sure you have signed the ADH consent form for the flu vaccine.

5. Sign the school district consent form.

6. Return both consent forms to your child’s school as quickly as possible.

This is a great opportunity for children to receive this vaccine with no charge to you. If you have insurance, ADH will ask your insurance company to pay for the cost of giving the vaccine. If a child does not have insurance or their insurance does not pay for vaccines, there will still be no charge.

Only those students with the required completed paperwork (the signed ADH consent AND the school district consent) will be allowed to receive the flu vaccine.

For more information go to www.healthy.arkansas.gov or www.flu.gov