Health officials typically administer flu shots prior to flu season, but because the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is now calling the flu a national epidemic, the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department is taking action to prevent further spread of the virus.
Toledo resident Luella Ward, like many others, says she didn't get her influenza vaccination before flu season started this past fall, and now, she's regretting it.
"I just kept putting it off, putting it off, and time just flew by," Ward said. "I'm very concerned because of what I've been hearing about how it's so dangerous for seniors."
According to the Ohio Department of Health (OHD), Ohio's level of flue activity is at "widespread," meaning that there have been outbreaks and increases of influenza-like illness cases in at least half the regions of the state.
In response to the recent rise in flu reports and concerns, people like Ward and many others are headed to the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, where walk-in flu clinics are being held once again.
"People are wanting the flu shot so we thought we'd open up our doors and try to do as many people as possible," said Mary Sheehy, a registered nurse with TLCHD.
Nurses say they typically like to vaccinate before flu-season swings into full force, but they saw a need. According to OHD, the number of influenza-related hospitalizations in the state tripled by early December .
"We've already vaccinated probably close to 2,000 people during September, October, November and even a little into December," Sheehy said. "And now all of a sudden, there's a demand, and we're hearing from people 'I never get a flu sot, but I want one this year."
That demand comes with good reason--flu season doesn't usually peak in Ohio until late January or February, leaving many people making a last minute effort to try to get one now, before things potentially get worse.
"I checked with my doctor, they said they were out of them," Ward said. "So that's why I came here."
Walk-in flu clinics continue Tuesday and Wednesday at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. each night.
The adult flu vaccination costs $25. Photo ID and insurance must be presented. The children's vaccination cost varies by health insurance. Parents must also present up-to-date immunization records for children.
Paramount, Medicare and Medicade can be billed directly.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact the Health Department at (419) 213-4163.