Last updated: February 20. 2013 1:46AM - 685 Views

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WILKES-BARRE – Wilkes-Barre Health Director Ted Kross said about 150 people showed up Friday at a flu clinic at the Kirby Health Center to get shots. They all had pre-arranged appointments. Kross said at least 10 people he talked to said they were getting the flu shot for the first time in their lives.

People are finally becoming scared enough to get the vaccine, said Kross. I think they are seeing the flu becoming so prominent in the community that they are deciding to get the vaccine.

Getting the vaccine, he said, is not a guarantee against contracting the flu.

The vaccine is about 50 to 70 percent effective, said Kross. But it's the best measure to prevent getting the flu.

There is no shortage of the flu vaccine in Pennsylvania, said Kait Gillis, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health. We urge people to attend the clinics or contact their health care providers to get the vaccine, she said.

Commonwealth Health, a network of health care facilities including Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, said its facilities are experiencing a spike in emergency room visits among people experiencing flu-like symptoms.

A statement issued by Commonwealth Health reads: People at high risk for developing serious complications include children younger than 5, adults over 65, pregnant women, and individuals with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease who may have worsening of their condition if they get sick from influenza.

In light of the influx of patients at its facilities, Commonwealth Health asked that visitors to its hospitals adhere to these guidelines:

• All visitors should be 15 years old or older, and visitation is limited to those situations of a critical nature.

• Visitors with a fever and cough, sore throat or other respiratory symptoms should not visit patients until their symptoms clear.

• Visitors should use tissues when coughing or sneezing and dispose of them promptly.

• Visitors should wash hands often and use alcohol-based hand rub.

Earlier this year the state reported that influenza cases have been documented in all Pennsylvania counties, with a number of nursing homes experiencing outbreaks.

Health officials have noted that this is the earliest that such high a high number of cases have been reported. They expect the peak to come in a few weeks.

Vaccines available

Wilkes-Barre City Health Department will hold a free walk-in clinic for flu vaccines from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday; limited vaccines available.

The st
ate Department of Health will hold two flu clinics – Tuesday and Thursday – at the state health center, 655 Carey Ave., Wilkes-Barre. To make an appointment, call 826-2071.

Hazleton General Home Care: The division of Hazleton General Hospital is offering vaccinations for $29; however, the shot might be covered by your health insurance. To make an appointment, call 501-4949.

More information: Visit state health website at www.flufreepa.

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