With flu season starting in October and only increasing in potency through the winter, the Santa Barbara Public Health Department has released a statement this week urging vaccinations for all pregnant women, children between the ages of six months and four years old, and all people over 50 years old, especially those who live in nursing facilities. Furthermore, all medical personnel and anyone with respiratory illness or immune deficiencies should also get vaccines.

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department will hold a series of free community flu clinics targeting people over the age of 60 and individuals with a doctor’s verification of chronic illness.

– Wed., Oct.17, 1-4 p.m., Goleta Valley Community Center at 5679 Hollister Rd.

– Wed., Oct. 24, 1-4 p.m., Franklin Community Center at 1136 E. Montecito St.

– Tue., Oc. 30, 1-4 p.m., Westside Community Center at 423 W. Victoria St.

– Wed., Nov. 14, 1-4 p.m., Veterans Hall at 941 Walnut Ave in Carpinteria

Additionally, this year there will be a free flu shot clinic held for any and all community members over the age of six months. This clinic will be held on November 8, 2007 at the Santa Maria Fairpark, 1-4 p.m., but is limited to 1,500 doses of flu vaccine.

Influenza is a serious viral respiratory infection that can be potentially life-threatening. On average, 36,000 people die each year from complications. Vaccination is the best protection against the virus. There are a number of immunization providers such as Costco, Longs, and other drug store chains offering flu vaccine to the public. For more information regarding flu shots in your area visit findaflushot.com or call the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department flu hotline at 1-866-608-1408.

The Health Department foresees no shortages of the vaccine this year and encourages all who want to reduce the risk of illness to contact one of the centers listed above as soon as possible.


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