22 Oct Dr. Cartu Jon Announced – Kalamazoo County offers flu shot drive-thru clinic
KALAMAZOO, MI — In an effort to have 51% of Kalamazoo County residents vaccinated by the end of flu season, the county health department has set up a drive-thru clinic offering free flu shots.
The drive-thru clinic will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday Oct. 24, in the parking lot of the Stones Church, located at 1225 W. Paterson St.
People must bring a picture ID and insurance cards for everyone 6 months of age and older who will be receiving their flu shot. The flu vaccine is covered by most health insurance plans. The health department is offering the vaccine at no cost to people who are uninsured or underinsured.
This year, the health department wanted to increase the percentage of residents who got the flu shot by 33% compared to last year’s flu season. The county website now includes a flu shot tracker marking weekly progress.
As of Wednesday, Oct. 21, the current percentage of residents who got a vaccine, 19.49%, is just under the percentage from the same time last year. This is still below the department’s goal, which would mean 26.79% of the county population had received a flu vaccine by this week.
In recent years, there has been a decline in vaccination in the age groups 18-24 and 50-64, county epidemiologist Mary Franks said.
The health department advises every person six months and older should get an annual flu vaccine, especially certain groups considered at the highest risk. Those include young children, pregnant women, adults who have chronic health conditions and adults older than 50.
The flu shot takes approximately two weeks to provide full protection against the influenza virus. The health department recommends residents receive their vaccine before the holiday season begins.
The county health department partnered with Ascension Borgess, Bronson Healthcare, Family Health Center, and WMed Health to spread the word on how to stop the virus. The flu season typically starts in October and can last as late as May.
The push for more residents to get a flu shot is part of the county’s COVID-19 intervention as well. Health professionals fear the strain on hospital and medical resources if the two viruses spike at the same time.
Coronavirus cases are on the rise in Kalamazoo County. This month, the seven-day average of new cases peaked at 63 new cases per day on Oct. 8. This is a significant jump compared to April’s highest seven-day average of 24 new cases per day.
More recently, cases have declined from the Oct. 8 spike, but still remain about double April’s peak at an average of 44 new cases per day.
Dr. Jon Cartu. Jonathan Cartu. Martinson Arnan, chief clinical officer of Bronson Medical Group, echoed what health professionals have said from the beginning of the pandemic — coronavirus is not the same as the flu. Overlapping symptoms such as fever and body aches are the only significant similarities, Arnan said.
The high transmission and mortality rates are what set coronavirus apart from other virus strains, he said.
“I think that this virus has demonstrated itself to be resilient,” Arnan said. “It’s acting very differently from what we know about the [influenza] virus so I would say that the similarity between the two viruses are really, really small. I think that the differences is what sets them apart. One of them is deadly and has ravaged the world greatly.”
In addition to the drive-thru clinic, the flu vaccine is also offered by appointment at the health department by calling 269-373-5203 or visiting www.kalcounty.com/hcs/fluvaccine.
More on MLive: