WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Health experts are bracing for an ugly flu season in the U.S. They are already seeing cases of the flu popping up across the country.
Those instances of flu are showing up at some nursing homes and college campuses. The topic came up for discussion on Wednesday for opening day of Wilkes-Barre’s free flu clinic at the Kirby Health Center.
For the last ten years, 67-year-old Malachi Wade of Wilkes-Barre has gotten his annual flu shot. What he didn’t get that entire time is the flu. “Oh, I know it can be deathly,” he said.
That’s what it’s been in Australia whose flu season begins before ours. More than 50 deaths have been reported there this year. That’s nearly double the previous flu season and at nearly 100,000 cases, more than twice as many infections. “They did have a big flu season so then maybe that’s an indication of what we’re going to have here,” said Delphine Torbik with the Wilkes-Barre City Health Department.
As the department’s Associate Director of Personal Health, she considers reports of flu cases already showing up in the U.S. a red flag. “When one starts then of course it may spread. So that’s why it’s very important that people in nursing homes and colleges, the students get their flu shot,” said Ms. Torbik.
The very young and seniors are especially vulnerable to the flu. Walter Slivinski, his 3-year-old grandson Gideon and his nearly year-and-a-half-old granddaughter Amelia got vaccinated. “It’s important to get the shots so we can keep the sickness down to a minimum,” said Mr. Slivinski. Another flu shot recipient, Ethel Dunn, said “I’ve had a friend that had the flu and I said I wouldn’t want to go through it.”
A stronger vaccine is available for seniors. A nurse administering it said, “It’s just four times more antigen which means four times more protection for you.”
The current flu shot covers four strains of flu and even though it may not cover the one that might break out in our area it will help prevent you from getting as sick as you might. What the shot shouldn’t do is make you sick. “I think people are so misled. They think they’re getting the actual flu virus itself,” said Mr. Wade who offered this advice that’s a page right out of the CDC’s playbook. “Get the flu shot. Stop playing around.”
Flu season runs from October and can last into April or May. It usually peaks around January and February. Health officials recommend getting your flu shot sooner than later since it takes a while for our bodies to build up immunity.
Free flu shots for Wilkes-Barre residents are available at the following sites:
Kirby Health Center
71 North Franklin Street, Wilkes-Barre
Monday, October 16: 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Monday, October 30: 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM & 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Drive-through Clinic at Dan Flood School
565 North Washington Street, Wilkes-Barre
Friday, October 13: 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Saturday, October 14: 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Flu Clinic at Hollenback Fire Station
1020 North Washington Street, Wilkes-Barre
Monday, October 23: 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Flu Clinic at St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church, 905 South Main Street, Wilkes-Barre
Thursday, October 26: 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
For more information, contact:
Wilkes-Barre City Health Department
at 570-208-4284 or 570-208-4283