The Star-Herald

Free community flu shot clinics planned in October

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Northern Light AR Gould Hospital will be offering a series of free drive up flu shot clinics for adults in October. A free pediatric flu shot clinic for children ages six months to 18 years old is also planned.

“While COVID-19 is still present in our communities, it is more important than ever that people get their flu shot,” said Jay Reynolds, MD, senior physician executive at the hospital. “For one thing, having your flu shot will lessen the chances of you getting both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, something that could make your illness worse than it might traditionally have been. It’s also a matter of convenience. COVID-19 and influenza symptoms are similar. Having your flu shot will decrease your chances of needing to have a COVID-19 swab and to be quarantined while waiting for a result during flu season.”

Although the hospital has had to cancel its Fall Health Fair due to safety concerns related to COVID-19, it has added an additional drive up flu shot clinic in Presque Isle for people who might normally get their flu shot during the health fair. All adult flu shot clinics will be drive up only for added safety and convenience of participants. The pediatric clinic will be held at Northern Light Pediatrics on North Street with strict safety protocols in place.  

“We are committed to the health and wellness of our community, which is why we offer these flu shot clinics at no charge,” said Dr. Reynolds.  

The schedule for the adult flu shot clinics will be: 

Mars Hill:  Thursday, Oct. 8, 4–6 p.m. 

In the parking lot of Central Aroostook High School – 26 Pleasant Street

Caribou:  Saturday, Oct. 10, 9 a.m.–12 p.m. 

In the parking lot of NL Caribou Health Center – 118 Bennett Drive

Fort Fairfield:  Saturday, Oct. 10, 1–3 p.m. 

In the parking lot of NL Fort Fairfield Health Center – 23 High Street

Presque Isle:  Saturdays, Oct. 17 & 31, 9 a.m.–12 p.m. 

In the parking lot of NL AR Gould Hospital – 140 Academy Street

Both regular and high dose flu shots will be available at these clinics. Those coming to one of these clinics for their flu shot must be at least 18 years of age and wear a face covering. Wearing a short sleeved shirt is also recommended for easier access for receiving the shot. Anyone who is not feeling well or experiencing any COVID symptoms is asked to not come to a clinic that day but rather wait until they are feeling better.

The pediatric flu shot clinic will be:

Saturday, Oct. 24, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. 

Northern Light Pediatrics, North Street Healthcare, 23 North Street

Due to safety guidelines, all who enter the building will go through a COVID-19 screening, including a temperature check, and everyone over the age of two must wear a mask. For families with only one or two children, we ask that only one adult bring them; for those with three or more children, two adults are welcome.  A limited number of people will be allowed in the building at one time per CDC guidelines, so some people may be asked to wait outside or in their vehicle until they are able to enter.  Just as with the adult clinics, we ask that if your child is not feeling well or experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms that you not attend the clinic on this day.

“With the expectation of higher numbers of people getting their children vaccinated this year and the delay that safety protocols may cause in the process, we are encouraging parents to have their children receive their flu shot in school if that is an option,” said Paula Daigle, manager of the pediatrics practice.  “We welcome all who come to our clinic and just ask that you be patient and anticipate longer than usual delays.”

According to Dr. Reynolds, “Getting a flu vaccine and using proper hand hygiene are the two most important things you can do to protect yourself from the flu. Any side effects of the flu shot are minor and last a very short time. Contrary to what some believe, you cannot get the flu as a result of getting vaccinated.”

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