With the 2017 influenza season looming, the Barton County Health Department is warning it may be a bumpy ride.
“There is a rumor in the health world that this could be a bad flu year,” Health Director Shelly Schneider told County Commissioners Monday morning. But, the vaccine available now should be effective against the flu strains anticipated.
So far, the Health Department has conducted 34 flu outreach clinics at which the staff has administered 475 flu shots. Over all, since Oct. 19, the office has given over 1,000 vaccinations.
And, “we still have a lot to give,” Schneider said. No shortage of vaccine is expected this year.
So, the department will hold a special flu clinic at from 9 a.m. until noon, Saturday at its office, 1300 Kansas in Great Bend. This is for people of all ages and for most people there is no out-of-pocket cost because Medicare and insurance will be billed.
Drug take back
But, the flu is not the only public health matter to be addressed Saturday. It is also National Drug Take Back Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a drive-through drop-off point at Lakin and Kansas in Great Bend.
Sheriff Brian Bellendir and the Barton County Sheriff’s Office will join the Barton County Health department and the Drug Enforcement Administration to collect expired and unused medications. “This is to give the public another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs,” Bellendir said.
“This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue,” he said. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse.
“Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarming high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs,” Bellendir said. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.
In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines — flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash — both pose potential safety and health hazards.
The last take-back event was in April, Schneider said. At that time, they collected 300 pounds of old medications.
For more information about either event, contact Schneider at 620-793-1902.