Flu clinic starts today

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pike County residents wishing to combat the seasonal flu will have the opportunity to do so this week.

Walgreen’s of Troy is sponsoring a flu shot clinic today from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. and all day Thursday.

Pharmacist Charlie Gaither said the cost is $24 per shot, and it is available to people six years and older.

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State Health Officer Don Williamson spoke at a press conference Tuesday and encouraged Alabamians to get the seasonal flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine when it comes out next month.

“We are still on track for early October,” Williamson said.

According to Williamson a large majority of the state’s H1N1 vaccines will come in mid October, and school clinics will be held in lat October.

However, Williamson warned that large amounts of Alabamians were going to be hit with H1N1 before the vaccine is available next month.

“Over the last 10 days, we’re still seeing almost nothing but H1N1,” Williamson said. “Things remain constant.”

According to Williamson, physicians in private practices have seen dramatic increases, with less than 1 percent being H1N1 on July 25 and 8 percent at the end of August.

“We’re seeing logarithmic acceleration in influenza,” Williamson said. “It’s likely to last a couple of months.”

But, he maintained that vaccines given in October and November would be just as vital because it is possible for the flu to have another cycle in the spring.

State Superintendent Joe Morton said the Department of Education and the Alabama Department of Public Health had joined together to sponsor upcoming health clinics in schools.

Morton also said that statewide schools had seen an increase in absences, and it is growing.

“We are at 7 percent statewide,” Morton said. “Annually we have an average 3.5 percent absences.”

Williamson said that across the state more than 50 percent of all schools have absentee rates of higher than 5 percent.

Schools who have had it longer are peaking out, but Morton said it appears that statewide the absences still appear to be growing.

Locally, Charles Henderson Middle School had experienced more than 100 absent students in a student population of 523, but Tuesday school officials said only 24 were absent.

While, it may appear that Alabama is one of the leading states in absences, Morton said that a lot of the nation just started school on Tuesday, while the majority of Alabama has been in school almost a month.

“The rest of nation is going back to school today, while we’ve been in school almost a month,” Morton said.