Nurses roll up sleeves, dole out thousands of flu shots

Meredith Crawford is the business of helping and taking care of others. That’s what prompted her to get her first flu shot last year.

“It’s as much about keeping others around you healthy as it is about your own health,” said Crawford, administrative secretary at Carle Urbana on Windsor.

But for many years, 27 to be exact, Crawford never bothered to get a flu shot. It didn’t really cross her mind. She admits she was skeptical and didn’t understand all the benefits.

“I wasn’t caring for young children or helping my grandparents around the house,” she said. “I’m not considered high-risk, and I never really took the time to stop and think about it.”

Carle pediatrician Dr. Stefanie Schroeder follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, urging everyone 6 months and older to get the flu vaccine. Adults older than 65, people who care for those who cannot get the flu vaccine (children young than 6 months, the immunocompromised– like people undergoing chemotherapy— and anyone with asthma or working in healthcare should be vaccinated. A host of flu clinics in the area makes it easy.

“Now that I’m in healthcare field I have new insight and information. It finally clicked for me with more education on how it prepares your body for the flu season building antibodies,” Crawford said.

Getting her flu shot was pain free, despite a little pinch.

“It was quick and easy. I didn’t have soreness,” said Crawford, who remained flu-free last year.

Fifteen quick minutes was all it took to help keep her healthy all flu season and prevent spreading illness to others.

Although insurance covers her flu shot, Crawford said she’d pay for the wise investment out of pocket.

“It’s not ideal to miss days at work, so staying healthy is a priority for me,” Crawford said, remembering she missed work when she got the flu nearly two years ago.

“I was even sick over the weekend making it even worse because I missed out on fun plans,” she said.

Typical symptoms for flu –a respiratory condition– include high fevers, chills, body aches, nasal congestion, and a cough.

“The respiratory flu can be severe, and people do end up being hospitalized. People can die,” Dr. Schroeder said.

Even if the vaccine doesn’t prevent the flu, it can lessen symptoms.

“If you do get sick with the flu, it is important to contact your health-care provider as you may benefit from medication such as Tamiflu which could lessen some of the nasty effects,” Schroeder said.

Carle’s no-appointment-needed community flu clinics run through December 3 at various locations.

Carle Physician Group patients may choose direct billing and must bring their clinic number and insurance card to do so. Patients with Medicare must bring their Medicare health plan card for direct billing. Non-Medicare or non-Carle Physician Group patients pay at the time of service. Seasonal flu shots cost $40, and high-dose flu shots cost $60. Carle will not offer Nasal FluMist this year, following CDC guidance.

For more information, call the Carle flu hotline at (217) 326-5000 or visit carle.org/flu.