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Community clinic targets poor and homeless with free flu shots - KOAM TV 7

Community clinic targets poor and homeless with free flu shots

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Kim Roark sat down for her first ever flu shot Wednesday at Soul's Harbor. She's only been a resident there since April but thinks she needs the  flu shot this year.

Kim says, "When you're around a group of people who go to school, work, their environment, they might bring stuff back just like when you live in a regular house."

The Community Clinic has a grant to deliver twelve-hundred flu shots to poor, mid-income and homeless residents. The clinic is taking the shots to various shelters to reach those who often have weakened immune system because of how they live.

Nurses with the Community Clinic say it's not just the living together in shelters that puts poor and homeless people more at risk for the flu.

Jane Fillmore says, "They're out in the community a lot, um,  if they get the flu where do they go to take care of themselves.  They sleep on the floor. They sleep in a sleeping bag. They sleep outside.  Some of these people don't eat for a day or two and  some don't eat three meals a day."

And many have chronic diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure that strain their immune systems since they don't have routine health care or insurance.

The Community Clinic will spend two weeks here at the Salvation Army during the sign up for holiday baskets. Nurses hope to reach several hundred people and they say it's all possible though a grant from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield designed to protect the health of the entire community.

Clinic Executive Director Barbara Bilton, RN, says of the homeless, " They tend not seek medical care and might be sicker than you or I who might go to the doctor hospital get taken care of henceforth, they're gonna hit the emergency department and cost all of us more money."

The flu shot is recommended for children beginning at six months and is important for the elderly.   However some people can be allergic to the shot.

For flu information -- click here for a link to the Centers for Disease Control web site on the flu.

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