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Shooing the flu: Clinic helps keep families healthy

ST. CHARLES – Candice Alvarez said she knows the first step toward keeping her family flu free this year is getting a flu shot.

With symptoms of fever, aches and an upper-respiratory cough, she also knows that coming down with the flu is pretty miserable.

“I had it on Christmas last year,” she said, adding that she got the flu despite having a flu shot. “It didn’t last as long – maybe a day or two. It wasn’t a whole week or anything.”

The St. Charles resident stopped by a flu shot clinic Tuesday hosted by Kid Care Medical at The Salvation Army in St. Charles to get shots or nasal injections for her children, ages 6 and 18 months. She said even though she caught the flu last year despite having gotten the shot, it’s still worth it because it shortened the illness.

Parents and children are among the most frequent patients at Kid Care Medical flu shot clinics, which take place on the third Tuesday of each month at The Salvation Army in St. Charles, said Pat McNamara, program director for community outreach for Kid Care Medical. She said seniors usually get their flu shots through their primary doctors, which is why they see fewer seniors at clinics.

She said turnout at the clinics usually depends on how prolific the flu is each season, adding that the flu virus hasn’t hit very hard yet so far this year.

Still, it’s a good idea to stay ahead of the curve, she said.

“It is so contagious,” she said. “And for certain populations – the very young and the very old – it can be a killer.”

When the H1N1 strain hit a few years ago, McNamara said people flocked to flu shot clinics for immunizations. She said this year, health care personnel are looking out for the H1N3 strain, which mainly was contained in the southern states last year.

Children as young as six months can get their flu shot, McNamara said. The flu shot being administered this year is called a quad strain flu shot, which covers four types of viruses, she added.

Jenna Micko-Vogt of St. Charles said getting a flu shot on Tuesday for her daughter, Jordan Micko-Vogt, 8, was quick and easy.

“I just want to keep her protected,” she said. “They make it very easy – you fill out two quick sheets of paperwork and pay $5. It’s much simpler than making a doctor’s appointment.”

Health care workers kept up the walk-ins as they filed into the room. After parents filled out paperwork, health care workers took temperatures and asked about allergies before taking families behind a screen and administering the shots. McNamara said shots are $5 for children or free with Medicaid and adults who stop by the clinic don’t have to pay more than $20 for a flu shot.

Parents can call a hotline at 630-599-5480 to make an appointment, which helps Kid Care Clinic staff prepare for the number of people who plan to stop by, but walk-ins are also welcome. The next flu shot clinic at The Salvation Army, 1710 S. Seventh Ave., is from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 19.

Margarita Espinoza of St. Charles stopped by Tuesday’s clinic with three of her four children ages 2, 6 and 12. She said they get their flu shots every year and said it’s especially important to keep her kindergartner flu free because younger children tend to spread more germs.

Nancy Levers of St. Charles shared the same sentiment for the 2- and 5-year-old she had in tow Tuesday.

“We just want to do everything we can to keep our kids sick free,” she said.

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