Department of Health holds flu clinics for the Nation and its employees

By Tim Wohlers

The Ho-Chunk Nation’s Health Department will be holding flu clinics in six different cities over the next three weeks, to provide vaccinations against several common strands of the virus. 
“You just go there and get your shot,” said the department’s assistant administrator Cari Fay.  “And that’s it.” 
The clinics will be open to tribal members, employees of the Nation and all family members covered under their health insurance.  Those planning on attending have been asked to bring their insurance cards with them to the visit. 
“Insurance covers it,” Fay said.  “But if you’re Native American and don’t have any insurance, it’ll still be covered.” 
This year’s clinics will take place in Black River Falls, Baraboo, Tomah, Nekoosa, Wittenberg, and La Crosse.  The date and time of each can be found on the Department of Health website. 
“I would encourage everyone to attend,” Fay said, “so you don’t get the flu – so you don’t get it and transmit it to your other family members.” 
Getting a vaccination this time around may be even more important than it has been in the past, considering the number of confirmed cases Wisconsin has already had this season.  According to the state’s Department of Health Services, at least 33 people have tested positive for the flu since Sept. 3. 
“We’ve already had reports of flu cases and hospitalizations due to the flu,” said State Health Officer Karen McKeown.  “So we want to encourage people to get their flu shots as soon as possible.”  
Employees of the Health Department have been strongly encouraged to get a vaccination as well.  The department has given them some extra incentive to do so. 
“Health Department employees who fail to get the vaccine will have to wear a mask during the flu season,” Fay said.  “But if they get the shot, then they don’t have to wear a mask while they’re at work.” 
Visits won’t take long, Fay said.  Recipients will just need to sign a consent form before receiving their vaccinations. 
“You go and they give you a form to sign,” Fay said, “and it tells you what type of reactions you may or may not have.” 
The vaccine will only take full effect approximately two weeks after the shot is administered, however.  Therefore, everyone has been encouraged to get their shots early in the season. 
“Getting any strain of the flu is bad,” Fay said.  “So get the vaccine.”   
The department’s last clinic will be held on Nov. 2, at Ho-Chunk Gaming – Wisconsin Dells.