ST. GEORGE — Cold and flu season is almost here, and the Southwest Utah Public Health Department will begin holding their annual flu shootouts this week.
The flu shootout in St. George will feature a drive-thru service in the parking lot of Red Cliffs Mall on Tuesday, which allows those ages 18 and older receiving vaccinations to drive up and stay in their car during the process, usually taking only a couple of minutes.
Flu shots will also be available in the food court of the mall later in the afternoon for children under 18 years of age, along with anyone else who prefers it to the drive-thru.
Flu shots are free for those with proof of the following insurances: Aetna, Cigna, DMBA, Educators Mutual, Healthy Premier, Medicare, MotivHealth, PEHP, Select Health, Tall Tree Administrators, United Health. For those not insured through these companies, the vaccine costs $20.
Flu shootouts are scheduled in all five counties in the SWUPHD district:
- Location: Red Cliffs Mall, 1770 Red Cliffs Drive, St. George.
- Time: Sept. 17, drive-thru, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. (adults over 18 only). Food court, 1-6 p.m., all ages.
- Location: Cedar City Hospital Health Fair, Cedar City Hospital, 1303 N. Main St., Cedar City.
- Time: Sept. 21, 9 a.m. to noon.
- Location: Beaver MedShed, 1090 N. Main St., Beaver.
- Time: Sept. 18, Noon to 4 p.m.
- Location: Kanab Middle School, 690 S. Cowboy Way, Kanab.
- Time: Oct. 12, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free for all Kane County residents.
- Location: Ruby’s Inn, 26 S. Main St., Bryce Canyon.
- Time: Oct. 17, 1-4 p.m.
- Location: Panguitch City Firestation, 40 N. 100 East, Panguitch.
- Time: Oct. 18, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Receiving a flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months of age or older to prevent contracting and spreading the virus.
“The more people that get vaccinated the better, because it then protects people that can’t or won’t get the vaccine,” SWUPHD spokesperson Dave Heaton said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that the flu causes between 9.3 million and 49.0 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 960,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 79,000 deaths, annually.
“We really encourage prevention. So we tell people that the best mix of things to do is get vaccinated and then keep your hands washed frequently during cold and flu season. Especially if you’re out in public where the flu virus can survive on hard surfaces like countertops or door handles for some times up to one or two days,” Heaton said.
The drive-thru flu shootout also allows the health department to practice their emergency response plans in the case of an epidemic.
“It does a couple of things. It helps us give vaccines in an event where it’s really quick and convenient for a lot of people, and helps us also practice our emergency response plans, or plans for a health emergency like a pandemic,” Heaton said.
The health department has been holding the flu shootout for 15 years. The practice proved useful in 2009 during the H1N1 pandemic, allowing the health department to vaccinate large groups of people against the flu strain as quickly as possible.
For more information, visit swuhealth.org/flu.
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