With the number of influenza cases circulating throughout Rhode Island and the country continuing to rise, the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) has organized a series of no-cost vaccination clinics throughout the state over the next three weeks.
Influenza has hospitalized 25 Rhode Islanders thus far this season. That number is up from 16 on December 30. Influenza is widespread in 25 states, including Massachusetts and Connecticut. Flu activity is expected to rise considerably in Rhode Island in next two weeks.
The dominant strain of influenza circulating in Rhode Island and the country is H1N1, which was first detected in 2009. This strain affects children and young adults more than other strains. However, this year's vaccine protects against H1N1 influenza, as well as two or three other strains (depending on what type of vaccine that people receive).
"The wave of influenza is in states all around Rhode Island and it's coming our way next," said Michael Fine, M.D., Director of Health. "This is not a typical year. This year younger people are more affected than the elderly. But the good news for children and young adults is that the flu vaccine is a very good match for the strain that is circulating. It's not too late to be vaccinated."
In addition to children and young adults, vaccination is particularly important for pregnant women, healthcare workers, seniors, and people with chronic medical conditions. Common chronic medical conditions include asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.
The first community clinic will be held on Wednesday, January 8 at the Warwick Mall from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thus far, 17 additional public clinics have been scheduled throughout Rhode Island. Although some clinics will be held in schools, they are open to everyone, not just students of these schools and people who live in these communities. As additional clinics are scheduled, they will be added to the clinic schedule. This schedule can be found at: www.health.ri.gov/find/vaccinations
All clinics are open to anyone older than 6 months of age. There is no cost for a flu shot and there are no insurance requirements at the clinics. People who have health insurance, however, are asked to bring their insurance cards.
In addition to being vaccinated at community clinics, children can be vaccinated at doctors' offices. Adults can be vaccinated at community clinics, doctors' offices, and pharmacies.
For more information about the flu and flu vaccination clinics, contact the Health Information Line at 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711.