SOAS paramedics, EMS personnel and Carter County Health Department workers bustled around the Ardmore Fire Department from Friday morning into the afternoon, administering nearly 800 flu shots on individuals ages nine to 90.
On a particularly cold, dreary day, individuals enjoyed the service from the comfort of their vehicles during the health department’s annual drive-thru flu clinic. The line of cars began to form around 9 a.m. and it wasn’t until around 4 p.m. that the clinic ran out of supplies and had to close.
In addition to medical and health care personnel, individuals from Langston University, the Ardmore Police Department and the fire department also extended a helping hand, distributing paperwork and making sure everything ran smoothly.
Stacy McMahon, the coordinating nurse at the health department, said volunteers administered around 130 flu shots per hour.
“We had a good turn out. We started out with almost 800 doses and we’re about to finish 800 doses. We’re going to give every one of them and then we’ll be done,” McMahon said as things began to wrap up in the drive-thru.
Since Sept. 1 of this year, there have been a total of 44 influenza-associated hospitalizations state-wide, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. However, there have been no confirmed deaths related to the virus yet.
Eight hospitalizations have been reported in the Southwest region, which includes Carter, Love, Johnston, Murray and Jefferson Counties.
“We have definitely heard from physicians’ offices and from around in our region that there are people that are testing positive with flu and this is the time of year that it happens,” said Mendy Spohn, Regional Administrative Director for the Carter County Health Department.
Now is the time to start taking all necessary precautions against the influenza virus, Spohn said. “It’s the annual flu time and it’s time to prepare yourself, prepare your medicine cabinet for what’s to come and get a flu shot.”
Hundreds of thousands of people contract the flu every year, McMahon said, making it all the more important to provide free flu shots for the community.
Whether it’s financial difficulties, a matter of making the time to get a shot, or another outside factor, some people have trouble accessing the vaccination. “People get hospitalized so it’s better to be protected. And then there’s some people who can’t get the flu shot. So it helps protect them,” McMahon said.
Others have also shown concerns about contracting the flu virus from a flu shot, McMahon said. However, it is impossible to get the flu from a flu shot because the vaccine does not contain a live virus, she said.
“If you have a little bit of fever after you get it, sometimes you’ll have a low grade fever, and what that is is an immune response, which means it’s doing it’s job,” McMahon said, adding that it takes about two weeks for the flu shot to begin working.
“So if you’ve been exposed prior to the flu shot or even two weeks afterwards, you still may get the flu but it’s not from the flu shot like everybody always says.”
The Carter County Health Department will be receiving another delivery of flu vaccines next week and individuals can visit the facility, located at 405 S. Washington Street, to receive a free flu shot.