Local clinicians give tips for keeping kids healthy during school year (copy)

Regular checkups are the best way to prevent illness. Health officials also recommend students get flu shots. Flu and COVID-19 vaccines and boosters will be available during Thursday's Back on Track event, sponsored by the Madison County Health Department and MDWise. The free event runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Sept. 22, 2022, in the parking lot at 222 E. 10th St., Anderson.

ANDERSON — Flu season is about to begin, which means it could be time for an annual flu shot. Stephenie Mellinger, administrator for the Madison County Health Department, said the vaccine was available as of Wednesday afternoon.

This year’s flu season is expected to be moderate, instead of mild like last year, she said, quote data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On its website, the CDC said it’d be ideal if everyone 6 months and older was vaccinated by near the end of October.

According to the CDC, some children 6 months to 8 years may be eligible for two doses. Mellinger said that if a pediatrician recommends a second dose for any reason, MCHD would administer it. Patients just need documentation from the pediatrician.

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an updated COVID-19 vaccine booster.

“Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorizations (EUAs) of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to authorize bivalent formulations of the vaccines for use as a single booster dose at least two months following primary or booster vaccination,” the FDA said in an Aug. 31 news release.

The updated booster protects against the omicron variant, Mellinger said.

In a FAQ section on its website, the CDC says that while data is limited, experience with other vaccines has shown the side effects of getting both a flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time to be similar to when they’re taken alone.

When asked about side effects, Mellinger said, “It’s hard to tell. … It could be as simple as a sore arm or just maybe feeling a little cruddy.

“I don’t think, though, that having both shots at the same time could increase the chances of experiencing that, but that’s really going to depend on the individual.”

Those 18 and older who’ve had their first two doses are eligible for the updated booster from Moderna. Those 12 and older are eligible for the Pfizer booster as well. In a Sept. 1 news release, the CDC said recommendations could expand to other pediatric groups in the coming weeks.

MCHD reported nearly 25% of kids in the county are behind on their vaccines and nearly 38% of 12th graders are behind, according to a Sept. 13 news release.

Thursday, the department will partner with MDWise for a day of fun and vaccinations, called Back on Track.

MCHD will be administering all vaccines for children in grades K-12, including COVID-19 vaccines, boosters and updated boosters. Everything is free, including the food, bounce house, school supplies, dental screenings, lead testing and other etc.

The event will be from 5 to 8 p.m. in the parking lot at 222 E 10th St. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult with valid identification, such as a driver’s license, passport or state ID card. No insurance is required.

Those not able to attend should call the Madison County Health Department at 765-641-9524 to make an appointment. The department’s at 206 E. Ninth St., #200, Anderson.

Follow Caleb Amick on Twitter @AmickCaleb. Contact him at caleb.amick@heraldbulletin.com or 765-648-4254.

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