Officials urge everyone to get flu vaccine

By Helena Rodriguez: PNT staff writer

Following last year’s shortage, the supply of flu vaccine is plentiful during what health officials say is a mild flu season, so far.

Health officials are urging everyone, particularly high-risk people, to get vaccinated.

“The more people we can get protected now, the less likely the severity of the season will hit people like it has the last couple of years,” said Chris Minnick, regional public information officer for the New Mexico Department of Health in Las Cruces.

“Right now, we have no reports of flu activity in the state, but we are asking everyone to get protected as soon as they can,” Minnick said.

Flu vaccines are available at the Portales Health Department Office,Minnick said, but she asks that people call before going in to make sure there will be a nurse available that day.

The flu season runs from October to March.

There are 150 flu vaccines left between the Clovis and Portales La Casa centers, according to Dr. Max Torres, medical director of La Casa Family Health Center.

“Individuals who are high risk are definitely recommended to get the vaccine— people with heart, lung or kidney disease, asthma or diabetes,” Torres said.

Flu shots are available at Roosevelt General Hospital for $20.

“It is best to get a flu shot early in the season so it can build up the immune, but we won’t turn anyone away and it will still be effective to get a shot now,” said Tersa Bonifant, a registered nurse in charge of infection control and employee health at Roosevelt General Hospital.

Bonifant said there seems to be more awareness about flu vaccines this year, saying that she has given anywhere from 300 to 400 shots this season. She has also gone out to businesses, at the requests of employers, to give shots to their employees.

Charlene Carter, administrative assistant at Portales Senior Citizens Center, said she’s been pretty persistent about getting senior citizens vaccinated.

“I would say that about 90 percent of them have gotten flu shots,” Carter said. “And even us as drivers, we get our flu shots too because we don’t want to get sick or get them sick.”

Carter said that although a person still may get aches, pains and other flu symptoms, she said the vaccine can protect people from serious types of influenza.

“The flu vaccines protect you from the big influenzas, so I think we’re pretty much covered this winter,” Carter said.