Roll up your sleeve. It's time again for the seasonal flu shot. The Phillips County Health Unit will be providing flu vaccinations on Thursday, Oct. 24 at the health unit from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. It is important to get the flu vaccine each year because there are different strains of the flu in circulation each season says Arkansas Department of Health officials. This year's vaccine will protect against the flu viruses that research indicates will be the most likely to strike this flu season. Flu clinics are currently underway in the Phillips County school districts. The times and dates of those can be found at the ADH website: http://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programsServices/infectiousDisease/Immunizations/seasonalflu/documents/MassFlusites.pdf. “The flu shot is our best protection against the flu,” stated Robyn Clark, county health administrator. “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.” The elderly, young children, pregnant women and those with health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and those living in nursing homes are at higher risk for serious complications from the flu. Flu infects the nose throat and lungs. For those young and healthy, the vaccine may be 70 to 90 percent effective in preventing the illness. “The flu is not a mild illness,” stated Dr. Dirk Haselow, state epidemiologist for the ADH. “It infects, sickens and kills more people each year than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined.” During the past 50 years, flu vaccines have had an excellent safety record. Contrary to myth, the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. Reaction to the shot might include mild soreness and redness near the site of the shot and perhaps a slight fever or headache. The mist form of the vaccine is recommended for those between the age of two and 49 who do not have asthma or other problems that might impair the immune system. ADH officials say there are 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. Flu symptoms include fever of above 100 degrees, headache, feeling tired, sore throat, muscle aches, dry cough, runny or stuffy nosed and occasionally stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Coughing, sneezing and touching a hard surface containing the virus and proceeding to touch the nose or mouth helps spread the flu virus. The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each fall, keep your hands washed and cover your mouth when you cough. The flu shots are free. If you have insurance, the company will be asked to cover the cost of administering the vaccine. But even if the insurance company refuses to pay, you will be not be out-of-pocket for the cost of the shot. For more information please go to www.healthy.arkansas.gov or www.flu.gov.