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BIG, BAD FLU SEASON IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER

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If the leaves are changing color, Ol' Man Flu must be about to blow into Utah.

Salt Lake County Aging Services officials are warning that this year's flu season should be particularly severe. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, seniors are particularly prone to complications arising from the flu, the officials added.The strains of influenza expected this season are called "A/Texas," "A/Nanchang" and "B/Harbin," says Sally Kershisnik, bureau manager for public health services, Salt Lake City-County Health Department. The department will start offering flu immunizations on Monday.

"Flu shots are $7, or the public health centers will bill Medicare" if the patient is on that system, she said. Medicare clients are required to show their cards at the time of service.

"Anyone over 65 years of age, or those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart or lung disease, or those individuals who want to reduce their chances of contracting the flu, should consider getting vaccinated," said Carolyn Scharffenberg of Aging Services.

In addition to the flu shots, a limited amount of pneumonia vaccine is also available at $9 a shot, or Medicare can also be billed. None of the clinics will be open Saturday through Monday, Oct. 12-14, for the Columbus Day holiday weekend.

No appointments are necessary to visit the following clinics Monday through Friday at these hours:

- Salt Lake City Public Health Center, 610 S. 200 East, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., plus the second and fourth Saturdays of every month, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. except holiday weekends.

- South Main Public Health Center, 3195 S. Main, 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4:30 p.m.; plus the second and fourth Saturdays of every month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. except holiday weekends.

- Copperview Public Health Center, 8446 S. Harrison (240 West), Midvale, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., plus Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. except holiday weekends.

- Ellis R. Shipp Public Health Center, 4535 S. 5600 West, West Valley City, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. except holiday weekends.

Additionally, Aging Services will staff about 70 clinics throughout Salt Lake Valley to protect seniors from the flu. The clinics will offer vaccinations at various dates from Monday, Oct. 7, through Friday, Dec. 6.

Scharffenberg said people who go to these special clinics and have a Medicare Part B card, an FHP card or an Intermountain Health Care card may bring in the card in to these clinics, and Aging Services will bill the appropriate agency or company.

Seniors who want to get a flu shot through Aging Services should call 468-2772 for dates and locations. Family members living with the seniors, as well as caregivers, should be vaccinated, too.