The West Piedmont Health District (WPHD) will offer free seasonal flu vaccine at a special drive-thru dispensing clinic on Friday, Oct. 23, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Rocky Mount Fire/Police station, 1250 N. Main Street. 

Vaccine will be available free on a first-come, first-served basis, and there is no need to leave your vehicle. Wear clothing that is loose so that a public health nurse can administer the flu shot in the upper arm. 

The clinic is being jointly hosted by the WPHD, Franklin County Public Safety and the Rocky Mount Fire Department.

Influenza, commonly called “the flu,” affects the respiratory tract. It is highly contagious and generally spreads from person-to-person when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can be transmitted even before flu-like symptoms appear. A person usually becomes sick one to three days following exposure to the virus. Typical flu symptoms include fever, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and extreme fatigue.

Health officials say that vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza and its potentially severe complications. This is especially important as COVID-19 continues to spread. Convergence of COVID-19 and flu could have deadly implications, they warn. The drive-thru format makes possible immunization of more people in a shorter timeframe, which is especially important in times of pandemic. 

Who should get flu vaccine? All persons aged 6 months or older should be vaccinated against influenza each year. Particular effort should be made to vaccinate people at higher risk for influenza complications, including: 

• Pregnant and postpartum women, or those who will be pregnant during the influenza season.

• Persons over 65 years of age, including residents of nursing homes and longterm care facilities. 

• People who have chronic lung or heart problems, including asthma.

• People who have other serious medical conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, cystic fibrosis, anemia, cancer, weak immune systems (including those with HIV) or a seizure disorder.

To help prevent the spread of influenza to people in high-risk groups, those who live with people in a high-risk group and healthcare workers should also receive an annual influenza vaccine. Travelers to countries outside of the U.S. may also need to consider influenza vaccination, even at different times of the year.

The CDC estimates that each year over the last decade, influenza has caused 9 to 45 million illnesses, 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 to 61,000 deaths.

To minimize risk of contracting or transmitting the flu, follow these steps:

• Get vaccinated.

• Wear a cloth face covering or mask.

• Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.

• Cover your cough, either by using a disposable tissue or coughing into your sleeve, not your hand.

• Stay at home when you are sick.

For more information, call the West Piedmont Health District, Franklin County office at 540-484-0292 or visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/flu.

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