The Ottawa County Health Department's seasonal influenza vaccination clinic schedule for the upcoming flu season will run from Oct. 3-14.

Summer Beck, the department's health educator, said the clinic schedules will be as follows: Monday through Friday from 8-11 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m.

She said flu vaccine will be available for anyone who wants to be protected from influenza. The shot is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older.

Persons at high risk of serious complications from flu are strongly encouraged to get the flu vaccine, she said, especially pregnant women and people with asthma, diabetes, chronic heart and lung disease, or other chronic conditions.

Beck said parents and family members of babies less than 6 months of age and people who live with or care for anyone at high risk for complications from the flu, including health care workers, should also get the vaccine.

"Flu can be a dangerous disease for people of all ages, even healthy children and adults," said William Pierson, administrative director for the Ottawa County Health Department. "We encourage everyone in Ottawa County to protect themselves and their families by getting their annual flu shot."

Public health officials stress that while strains of flu in the vaccine this year are the same as last year, vaccination is still needed, because immunity from a dose received last year will not provide protection this year.

"Getting an annual flu shot is the most important step in protecting against the flu," said Pierson. "Influenza vaccine is very safe and effective."

Beck said the Ottawa County Health Department will be providing flu vaccine using the following fee schedule:

No charge for families whose income is less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level.

No charge for adults 65 years of age and older.

No charge for children who have no health insurance, or are on SoonerCare or are Native American or Alaskan natives, or children whose insurance does not cover vaccines.

Children and adults with health insurance that covers vaccines and those with incomes above 185 percent of the poverty level will be charged a fee of $25 for flu vaccine to cover the cost of the vaccine and the cost of administering the vaccine.

The Ottawa County Health Department will accept cash, check and credit cards for payment.

High-dose flu vaccine, a vaccine with four times the antigen than regular flu vaccine, will be available for persons 65 and older.

"Immune systems are less responsive as people age. The high-dose vaccine should provide more protection, although it may come with a slightly higher chance for typical side effects like sore arm, headache, and low fever," Pierson said.

In addition to getting a flu vaccination, persons 65 and older and those with chronic health conditions should ask their doctor if they should be vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia, if they have not already received a dose.

Beck said pneumococcal pneumonia is a common and potentially serious complication of the flu. Unlike the influenza vaccine, the pneumococcal vaccine does not need to be given every year.

For more information about the upcoming flu clinics at the Ottawa County Health Department, call 918-540-2481.