In conjunction with the Carlisle School District, the Lonoke County Health Department offered a free flu clinic to teachers and students on Oct. 30 at the high school nurse’s office.

According to Carlisle Public School Nurse Shawn Carter, 232 were vaccinated during the clinic Tuesday. Carter said she believed this year’s clinic was a success since this years clinic was closed to the public and numbers held steady compared to last years 276 that were vaccinated during the open clinic. Although the flu shot is not mandatory, Carter said she strongly encourages everyone to get it.

"I am all for it [vaccination]," Carter said. "As they say, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure."

Carter said the school district is also working to help lower the potential threat and spread of the influenza virus. She said despite the hand sanitizers that are located in classrooms and throughout the building, students are encouraged to wash their hands and cough into the bend of their arm at the elbow. Carter said she also encourages parents to keep their children home from school if they are sick.

"Mainly, it’s good hand washing, being as it is the only way to prevent it [the spread of influenza], Carter said. "Vaccination is number one and hand washing is second."

According to Carter, she partners with the Arkansas Department of Health each year to hold the flu clinic to ensure students do get vaccinated. She said parents are much more likely to take their children to the local school to get the vaccination than going to a mass clinic.

Carter said some signs to watch for is a child feeling bad, tiredness, complains of achiness, running a low-grade fever or general flu like symptoms but symptoms vary between individuals. She said if a child comes to the nurses station ill, one of the main signs she looks for before contacting a parent is a fever of at least 100-101 degrees.

The influenza virus spreads through sneezing, coughing and touching hard surfaces that contain the virus and then touching the mouth or nose. Symptoms include fever, extreme fatigue, aching muscles, headache, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, dry cough and occasionally vomiting, nausea or diarrhea.

Lonoke County Health Units will conduct a mass flu clinic, providing seasonal flu vaccinations, Nov. 9 at the Lonoke Community Center, 1355 West Front Street (U.S. Highway 70), Lonoke. The clinic will operate 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There is no charge to individuals. Health insurance information will be requested, which the Arkansas Department of Health will use to request payment from insurance. But regardless of whether insurance will cover the immunization, there will be no charge for the individual, an ADH press release states.

Children 8 years old and younger who have never been vaccinated for seasonal flu will need a second vaccination four weeks after the first vaccination for full protection. In Lonoke County, contact the ADH health units at Lonoke or Cabot, or personal healthcare provider, for the second vaccination.

ADH information notes that there are very few medical reasons for not getting vaccinated for the flu. The reasons include severe, sometimes life-threatening allergic reactions to previous flu vaccinations or eggs, or Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Persons with a non-life threatening egg allergy may be vaccinated, but need to see a doctor specializing in allergies.

Reactions to flu vaccines might include a mild soreness and redness near the site of the shot and perhaps a little fever or slight headache. The nasal spray flu vaccine side effects may include runny nose, headache and wheezing; the flu vaccine cannot cause the flu.

For more information, go to www.healthy.arkansas.gov or www.flu.gov, or contact the Lonoke Health Unit at 501-676-2268