Oct. 13, 2005 – Seniors and other Virgin Islands residents will soon be lining up to get their winter flu shot at the annual Care Force program. In addition to flu and pneumonia shots, there will be blood-pressure screening, blood-sugar monitoring, dental checks, vision screening and foot exams.
Although you may be asked to stretch out your arm to get this life saving shot, you won't have to put your hand in your pocket – these services are being given to the public at no charge.
Hemoglobin A1c & lipid profiles will also be provided. To get these tests, you must present a Medicare or insurance card.
Dr. Cora Christian, Virgin Islands Medical Institute director, has been the driving force of Care Force in the Virgin Islands for the past five years. VIMI will again team up with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), Hovensa, the Department of Human Services, the V.I. National Guard and the V.I. Air National Guard to conduct clinics at convenient locations on all three islands.
Christian said some residents are under the impression that the flu shot causes the flu. She said it does not. The flu vaccine is made up of dead flu viruses that prepare the immune system to fight the actual virus if it enters the body. Because the viruses in the shots are not active, they cannot cause influenza, Christian explained.
Some people experience soreness in the arm after the shot. A small number of people experience fever and muscle aches within six to 12 hours after getting the shot. This is not the flu. The influenza virus produces a respiratory illness — coughing, scratchy throat and elevated temperature. Muscle aches and headaches are intense. Once you are exposed to the flu, the symptoms take up to six weeks to appear.
Although colds and various other viruses may cause similar symptoms, true influenza weakens a person much more than other viruses. That's why it's important for people 65 and older to be immunized every year against this seasonal disease. Each winter, thousands of Virgin Islanders experience flu-like symptoms; many spend days in bed with the flu; some are hospitalized and some even die. With more than 15,000 seniors living in the Virgin Islands, it is imperative that their health be protected.
Christian emphasized that all seniors need to get their flu shot. "Getting the flu shot is like putting shutters on your house in hurricane season," she said. "The shutters don't stop a hurricane, but they protect your home."
Care Force 2005 will be held at the following locations and times:
7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 17 and 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 18
D.C. Canegata Ballpark Recreation Center
Aldersville Senior Center
7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 20 and 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 21
St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Sugar Estate
Frenchtown Community Center
8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Oct. 20
St. Ursula's Senior Center
For more information on Care Force, call 712-2444.
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