HALIFAX, Va. - The Southside Health District will conduct a public health exercise
offering a free seasonal flu vaccine at a clinic Friday, February 3, from 9 a.m. to
2 p.m. at the Mary Bethune Complex Gymnasium, 1030 Cowford Road.

A limited supply of free influenza vaccine will be available on a first-come,
first-served basis for everyone ages 6 months and older. A parent or guardian must
accompany anyone under 18.

$B!H(BThe Virginia Department of Health recommends vaccination each year for everyone 6
months and older,$B!I(B Southside Health District Director Scott J. Spillmann, MD, MPH,
said. $B!H(BVaccination is the best way to prevent influenza and its potentially severe

Residents can preregister at:
Appointments are not required.

The purpose of these exercises is to simulate a mass vaccination event in which the
health department and local agencies would work together so community members could
be vaccinated efficiently during a time of emergency. The vaccine is provided by the
Virginia Department of Health, Office of Emergency Preparedness.

Vaccination is especially important for people at higher risk for influenza
complications, including:

  *   Pregnant and postpartum women, or those who will be pregnant during the
influenza season,
  *   Persons over 65 years of age, including residents of nursing homes and
long-term care facilities,
  *   People who have chronic lung or heart problems, including asthma, and
  *   People who have other serious medical conditions, such as diabetes, kidney
disease, cystic fibrosis, anemia, cancer, weak immune systems (including those
with HIV) or a seizure disorder.

Influenza, commonly called $B!H(Bthe flu,$B!I(B is a serious disease caused by the influenza
virus that affects the respiratory tract. It is highly contagious and generally
spreads from person-to-person when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus
can be transmitted even before flu-like symptoms appear. A person usually becomes
sick one to three days following exposure to the virus. Typical flu symptoms include
fever, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and
extreme fatigue.

To minimize your risk of contracting or transmitting the flu, follow these simple

  *   Get vaccinated,
  *   Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds,
  *   Cover your cough, either by using a disposable tissue or coughing into your
sleeve, not your hand, and
  *   Stay at home when you are sick.

For more information on this clinic, call the Southside Health District at (434)