Free flu vaccine for registered veterans

MARQUETTE — Many people’s attention may be turned toward the Ebola virus right now, but that doesn’t mean the flu virus goes away. The VA is making it easy right now for veterans to get vaccinated and stay safe from the flu this winter.

The Oscar Johnson VA Medical Center and its outpatient clinics are offering walk-in vaccinations. Veterans already registered within the VA system can just show up and get the flu shot for free. The Marquette clinic has offered them since last Wednesday.

“It is something that we’ve done for quite some time,” Marquette VA clinic nurse Michael Grant said. “Any one of our clinics throughout the U.P. — throughout VISN 12 (a region of the VA system covering the U.P., much of Wisconsin and part of Illinois) — can get the injection. We do have several hundred doses and we can order more.”

The Marquette clinic had administered about 150 doses when we spoke with them. Even if someone vaccinated does get the flu, the symptoms are milder than they’d be without the vaccine.

“The important thing is that they get vaccinated,” Grant said. “It’s very important to get vaccinated. The flu virus can cause many other health problems in people who have other health problems to begin with. It’s available, it’s free; it’s highly recommended that everybody get them.”

Here’s when and where the free vaccine is available:

* The Oscar Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain: through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Central each day, and this Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to noon.

* The Hancock VA clinic: tomorrow and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

* The Ironwood VA clinic: this Thursday, and Thursday, October 30th, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Central.

* The Manistique VA clinic: this Thursday, and Thursday, October 30th, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

* The Marquette VA clinic: every day through this Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

* The Menominee VA clinic: this Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Central.

* The Sault Ste. Marie VA Clinic: tomorrow and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and this Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.