With the flu season on the horizon, vaccinations have been made available at clinics, stores and other businesses across Nodaway County.

Places in the county offering flu shots include:  Hy-Vee Pharmacy, 1217 South Main; the Nodaway County Health Center, 2416 South Main; Rogers Pharmacy, 125 East South Avenue; SSM Health-St. Francis Hospital, 2016 South Main; Walgreens Drug, 1114 South Main; and Walmart Pharmacy, 1605 South Main. All are in Maryville.

The Nodaway County Health Department will offer walk-ins and appointments almost every day through the end of October and will continue accepting cases through the first few weeks of November. Children can be scheduled on Thursdays and every other Thursday will be open for child walk-ins. The clinic will also offer night hours from 6 to 9 pm a few evenings.

The health department can accept nearly all health insurance companies and will accept under-insured or non-insured patients. Those patients will be asked for a $20 donation to cover the cost of the vaccination, but if that cannot be afforded, the department will still administer the shot.

Nodaway County Health Department Public Health Nurse Supervisor Tabitha Frank said last year saw a severe season with a high number of cases and intense symptoms associated with those cases. She also said it commonly takes two weeks for the vaccine to build up the protection in people’s immune system. With these two things in mind, Frank said it is more important than ever to get an early flu shot.

“We never know when flu season is going to begin,” Frank said. “So you should try and get your flu shot as early as possible because it will take those two weeks to begin protecting you. Years ago, it would only last a few months. Now it will last the entire flu season. So if you get it done in September it’s going to last you until April or May. So don’t worry about it being too early.”

Groups typically at the highest risk for severe flu side effects are children, elderly and those with weakened immune systems. However, Frank said it should not just be those in the at-risk groups getting the vaccine.

“Everybody needs this vaccine,” Frank said. “We’ve had years where it affected more healthy people, like H1N1. When that was going around, it affected more healthy people than your normal older or younger groups. So it is recommended for everyone. Of course, we want to get those who are young or old or have compromised immune systems, definitely want them, but everybody needs a flu vaccine.”

It is also important to note that children younger than nine who have not received the flu shot in the past have to receive two shots, spaced out by about a month. Frank said it is especially important for those patients to get in as early as possible, as it will be about six weeks after their first shot before the child gets their protection.

Frank also wanted to stress the importance of getting the vaccine every year. The vaccine changes a little bit every year to adapt to changes in the virus. She also said it is important to know it is never too late to get a flu shot.

“Some people, as we get later in the season, think it is too late for them because they already got the flu, but last year we had an influx of cases where people had gotten one strain of the flu, and then when the other strain came in the area, they got that one, too,” Frank said. “So it is never too late to get the flu shot.”