North Central Public Health District is offering free flu vaccines to anyone who wants one in Wasco, Sherman and Gilliam counties, regardless of whether they have insurance.

Those who would like to receive a vaccine can call the health district at 541-506-2600 to schedule an appointment. The health district office is located at 419 E. 7th St. in The Dalles.

The North Central Public Health District (NCPHD), which serves the three counties, has reportedly seen an unprecedented interest in the flu vaccine this fall, providing far more vaccines than it has in the past.

“It has been incredible the number of people that have been getting their flu vaccine,” said NCPHD RN Grace Anderson, who administers most of the vaccinations at the health district.

“People really want to protect themselves from any kind of virus that they can,” Anderson said. “We don’t have a vaccine for COVID right now but we do have a vaccine for flu. They want to take whatever preventative they can to keep themselves healthy.”

She said the possibility exists to get both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. “Having an infection weakens your body and having another infection on top of that could worsen the outcome.”

In some cases, the vaccination may not prevent the flu altogether but it can confer enough immunity to lessen the symptoms if a person does get it, Anderson said. And that can prevent a hospitalization due to flu, taking some burden off the healthcare system when it is overwhelmed with COVID patients.

The health district received 500 doses of vaccine, some of which have been distributed to community partners including the regional jail in The Dalles, Arlington Medical Clinic, South Gilliam County Medical Clinic in Condon, and Community Meals in The Dalles.

A vaccine clinic is planned at Celilo Village in The Dalles on Nov. 25 in conjunction with community partner One Community Health. More clinics are planned for the three counties in the coming weeks.

For more information, please contact North Central Public Health District at 541-506-2600 or visit their website at www.ncphd.org or https://wascoshermangilliamcovid-19.com/

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