The Fairfax County Health Department and Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) have joined forces to offer a series of free flu vaccination clinics at senior centers across the county.
The clinics were originally intended to exclusively serve people 50 and older, because older people tend to be more at risk for flu-related complications. However, the county has decided to expand the criteria to allow all adults 18 and older to utilize the service.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full force and flu season starting, it is more important than ever that older adults get vaccinated for influenza,” NCS communications director Amanda Rogers said. “…While the initial scope of the partnership was to provide older adults a safe environment to get their annual flu vaccine, we have expanded the criteria to include all adults 18 and older for the remaining events.”
After launching on Oct. 6 at the Herndon Senior Center, four additional clinics are scheduled to take place from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., three days per week, for the next four weeks:
- Oct. 19, 21 and 22: Lincolnia Senior Center (4710 N. Chambliss Street, Alexandria)
- Oct. 26, 28 and 29: Original Mount Vernon High School (8333 Richmond Highway, Alexandria)
- Nov. 2, 4 and 5: Little River Glen Senior Center (4001 Barker Court, Fairfax)
- Nov. 9, 10 and 12: Lewinsville Senior Center (1613 Great Falls Street, McLean)
Fairfax County is also holding flu vaccine clinics for adults and children 6 months or older at the Herndon Reston District Health Office on Oct. 24 and the Mount Vernon District Health Office on Nov. 7.
While health officials recommend that everyone 6 months or older get vaccinated for influenza annually, the need for people to get flu shots is especially urgent this year, as flu season arrives while the U.S. continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Flu season typically starts in late fall and lasts throughout the winter in the U.S., hospitalizing more than 200,000 people and killing about 36,000 people every year, according to the Fairfax County Health Department.
Caused by viruses that infect the respiratory system, influenza produces symptoms similar to the ones now associated with the novel coronavirus, including fever, coughing, a sore throat, body aches, fatigue, and headaches.
“It’s very important that we take advantage of the flu vaccine to protect ourselves against the flu so we don’t overburden the healthcare system with individuals who have serious complications of the flu, because they’re already taxed right now responding to COVID-19,” Fairfax County Health Department director of health services Shauna Severo said in a video about the senior center flu vaccine clinics.
In accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for reducing the potential transmission of COVID-19, Fairfax County is requiring all clinic visitors to wear face masks, undergo temperature checks, and adhere to social distancing protocols.
Visits are by appointment only, and all individuals are screened for COVID-19 symptoms both before their appointment and on the day they arrive.
All healthcare providers and other workers staffing the clinics are also wearing masks and other personal protective equipment.
“We are taking every precaution at our clinics to create a safe environment for individuals to come get their vaccine,” Severo said.
Community members can schedule an appointment at one of Fairfax County’s flu vaccine clinics by calling 703-246-6010.
Photo via Unsplash