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Health Department offering flu shots and immunizations at Harbor/Petoskey office

EMMET COUNTY With flu season in full swing, and with vaccine-preventable diseases still making headlines, the Health Department of Northwest Michigan is holding a special Flu Shot and Immunization Clinic on November 26 at its Emmet County facility in the J.R. Watson Community Resource Center, located at 3434 M-119, in Harbor Springs. Appointments are available between 8am and 6:45pm on that date, and walk-ins are welcome.

"The single best way to prevent getting the flu is to get vaccinated every year," said Joshua Meyerson, M.D., Medical Director for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. "That's why the Health Department offers these immunization clinics throughout the four-county health district."

Pat Fralick, the Health Department's Director of Family and Community Health, says the charge for a flu vaccine is $25, and charges for additional vaccines vary. "We can also bill Medicare, Medicaid, and several private health insurance companies for immunizations," Fralick added, noting that the Health Department does not turn away anyone age 18 or younger who is uninsured and unable to pay for immunizations required for school. Anyone under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

While walk-ins are welcome, Fralick recommends making an appointment. "We do quite a lot of preparation to make sure people can get in and out as quickly as possible," she said. "When we know how many are coming, we can be sure we have enough vaccine on hand and have adequate nursing staff. We can also identify any other vaccines individuals may need by checking the Michigan Care Improvement Registry in advance, and we can administer them during that same appointment."

Influenza viruses are spread when someone who is sick with the flu coughs, sneezes or speaks, releasing viruses into the air for other people to breathe. When these viruses enter the nose, throat, or lungs, they begin to multiply, causing disease. The viruses can also be spread when a person touches a surface with flu viruses on it and then touches his or her nose or mouth.

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For more information or to schedule an appointment during the Flu Shot and Immunization Clinic on November 26, call (800) 432-4121.