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From staff reports

It’s time to get vaccinated before the flu season starts. Flu season usually begins in October and can last through May. Just because last year was the mildest flu season on record doesn’t mean the virus might not bounce back to its usual ferocity this winter.

In efforts to promote healthy living in the community, Lakeway Regional Medical Center will host a public flu vaccination clinic through Oct. 25 from 1-4 p.m. Sundays and from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at clinic in the main lobby of the hospital.

Patients covered by Medicare Part B should bring their card to the vaccination session so that we can bill their Medicare carrier directly. Non-Medicare patients should be prepared to pay $20 at the time of vaccination. Accepted forms of payment are cash and credit.

Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Some people, such as older people, young children and anyone with certain health conditions are at high risk for serious flu complications.

The upcoming season’s flu vaccine will protect against the three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season. This includes an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus and an influenza B virus.

Some of the signs and symptoms of the flu include but are not limited to fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. Don’t mistake these symptoms for a mild cold.

Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. During a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.

The single best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine. The vaccine is not a live virus and will not give anyone the flu, but it will build immune systems up enough to fight and prevent contraction.

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