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Hattie and Eleanor Britt, 7 and 9 years old, were headed to get Sweet Peaks ice cream and then to the library with their dad, Andy. The trio had just gotten their flu shot at Gallatin City-County Health Department’s flu vaccine clinic at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds on Saturday.

Andy said the family gets their flu shot each year.

Saturday’s clinic was the second flu vaccine clinic the health department held this month. The first out of the two planned clinics was Oct. 12, a weekday, when around 200 people show up for a vaccine, according to William Gavin, a nurse with the health department.

Gavin said the health department was hoping to see more people but it was also the first time it held a walk-up clinic like that. Typically in a year, the health department will administer around 800 flu vaccines, he said.

By around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, the clinic had seen about 110 people since it opened its doors at 9 a.m.

Flu vaccine

Public health nurse William Gavin holds up a dose of flu vaccine at a Gallatin County Health Department flu vaccine clinic at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021.

Flu vaccine

Montana State University nursing student Molly Fulton administers a flu vaccine to Amanda Hamstra at a Gallatin County Health Department flu vaccine clinic at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021.

To help spread the word, Gavin said, the health department sent emails and text messages to people who have gotten a flu vaccine with the department in the past.

Suzie Turczyn said while she gets her flu vaccine each year, she hadn’t planned to attend the clinic until she received a text alert from the health department. She said she appreciated how well organized the clinic was.

Turczyn said it was important to her to get the flu vaccine “to be as healthy as possible during unhealthy times.”

Nicole Jones also said she heard about the clinic via the health department’s reminders. Jones, who works at a gas station, said her job involves a lot of interaction with people so she gets her flu shot each year.

The clinic comes as health officials across the country are warning people of the possibility of a “twindemic,” or an outbreak of both the flu and COVID-19.

While there were worries last year of a hard flu season that never materialized, there are a few differences this year, Anna Snyder, human services director with the health department, said in an interview Friday.

Flu vaccine

A series of stickers are prepared for people getting flu vaccines at a Gallatin County Health Department flu vaccine clinic at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021.

“A difference from last year is a lot of the community is not participating in social distancing and mask wearing and that should increase our risk of the flu this year compared to last year when people were being more socially distanced,” Snyder said.

This year’s flu vaccine is designed to protect against four influenza viruses, Snyder said.

Snyder said for children under six months old or people who aren’t able to get the vaccine, it’s especially important for the people closest to them to get their flu vaccine to “cocoon them.”

In addition to getting the flu vaccine, Snyder encouraged people to practice other healthy habits like avoiding close contact with people who are sick, washing hands frequently, avoiding touching eyes, mouth and nose and getting good sleep.

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Liz Weber can be reached at lweber@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.

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