HAMILTON — Health officials in the Bitterroot are taking aim at the flu.
"We only get reports on the individuals that go into the doctor and test positive for the flu. We can comfortably say we only see the tip of the iceberg for disease activity,” Ravalli County Public Health Director Angelia Allen stated.
“This means that there is more flu activity occurring in our community than what the numbers report. The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get the influenza vaccine, practice good hand washing, and staying home when sick,” she added.
A seasonal flu vaccine walk-in clinic will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17 at the First Interstate Building at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds in Hamilton.
“We will be offering vaccines for everyone 6 months and older,” Allen said, adding that the high-dose flu vaccine for individuals 65 years and older will also be offered at the clinic. “This vaccine is made with four times the amount of antigen, giving older adults a better immune response,” added Allen.
You can also call (406) 375-6672 to schedule an appointment at the Public Health office, located at 205 Bedford Street Suite L, Hamilton.
Vaccinations by appointment are available Monday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and again from 1 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. On “Walk-in Wednesday,” from 1 p.m. until 4:30 p.m., no appointment is necessary.
Allen notes that most insurance plans are accepted and pay full cost for the flu vaccine. The cost for the seasonal flu vaccination without insurance is $10 and the flu vaccine is free for Medicare recipients. Cash, check or insurance is accepted.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination against influenza for all people over 6 months of age by the end of October. Flu can be especially serious in seniors, young children, pregnant women, and people with conditions like asthma and diabetes.
During the 2018-2019 influenza season, a total of 13,576 cases, 767 hospitalizations, and 38 deaths due to influenza were reported from all but one county in Montana. There were 569 reported cases in Ravalli County.
Peak influenza activity occurred during the week ending Feb. 23, 2019. The majority of influenza outbreaks were reported in long-term care facilities and schools.
Click here or call your healthcare provider for more information about the flu vaccine.