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Flu Shots in Tuscaloosa County

By Bobby Puppione, Alabama Public Radio

Tuscaloosa, AL – The peak of the flu season is right around the corner. And with a shortage of doses across the U.S., not every person is able to get this sickness fighting vaccine. Alabama Public Radio's Bobby Puppione reports more residents in Alabama are receiving the flu vaccine this week.

"Tomorrow will be my oldest daughter's 38th birthday and I remember that 38 years ago today I was in the hospital because I had contacted the flu and it made me very, very weak."

Tuscaloosa County Resident Carol Jackson.

"So when I had my doctor's appointment he said you have to go ahead into the hospital so we can start feeding you intravenously and get you ready to have this baby. And so, as a result, I was in there and did have some complications from having the flu."

Jackson's dehydration and weakness may have been prevented if the flu vaccine was available 38 years ago, which it wasn't. All this week, county health departments are administering the flu vaccine. In Tuscaloosa County, about 600 doses were available to certain residents on a first come first serve basis. Pat Williams is the immunization manager for Public Health Area Three.

"On the third of January, the CDC and the state health department relaxed the recommendations for the flu vaccine. So now we are able to offer it to people 50 and older, where as prior to that it was to 65 and older and to certain high risk groups."

Williams says county health departments have yet to see many flu cases across the state, but its still important for people to receive the shot if available.

[Nurse administering a shot]

"Piece of cake."

Flu shot recipient Tim Parker.

"Came in here, about one minute of paperwork, no lines at all. So, the flu is not fun if you get it and I think that these flu shots have helped me minimize the flu in the past."

There is a persistent story of how the flu vaccine may actually get you sick, but immunization manager Pat Williams says that's a myth.

"With inactivated vaccine, it will not make anybody sick because it is a killed virus."

Even 38 years after her memorable bout with the flu, Carol Jackson says she was happy to receive the vaccine.

"I'll be talking to my daughter before today's over and she'll be glad that I was here earlier today getting the shot to maybe prevent something because I am much older now and I certainly don't want to have the flu."

Doses are still available in Tuscaloosa County. The remaining vaccines will be given out tomorrow at Bowers Park in Tuscaloosa.

For Alabama Public Radio, I'm Bobby Puppione.

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