This year’s flu season could be bad. Officials urge public to get vaccinated.

With flu season in full effect, many area residents are not taking any chances and are getting their flu vaccination. According to Kathy Loden, administrator with the Clark County Health Department, the local health department has plenty of flu vaccines available at this time. "We have had lots of calls about MDs and pharmacies being out of the flu vaccine," said Loden. In October, the CCHD administered exactly 1,100 flu vaccinations during its free mass flu clinic. According to information provided by Loden, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is currently receiving increasing numbers of reports of influenza infections and hospitalizations from all regions of the state and is already aware of seven deaths from the flu — including two previously healthy children. To put this year into perspective, the information states that last year was the worst flu year in Arkansas in more than 35 years. Compared to last year at this time, there are similar levels of flu-related emergency department visits and nearly double the reports of flu-related outpatient visits. Based on the information, this season has all the markings of being a severe one. Flu vaccinations are given at the CCHD every Monday and Thursday from 8 a.m. until 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Although no appointment is necessary, it is requested that people bring their insurance card with them. Self pay is $30 for those who can afford to pay. "We urge everyone to get protected. Even though there are new flu strains that may not be directly covered by this year’s vaccine, getting your flu shot each year should help lessen symptoms if you do get the flu," said Loden. Loden also reminds people that the injection is a dead virus that will not give them the flu. The Clark County Health Department is located at 605 S. 10th St.