Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

With flu season expected to hit South Texas next month, officials with the CHRISTUS Spohn Healthwise program are urging local residents to get their flu shots.

CHRISTUS Spohn Healthwise will sponsor a flu vaccine clinic this Saturday in Alice on the first floor of Laviana Plaza.

Linda Faith, the Community Health Coordinator for Wellness Services, said everyone age 50 years or older should consider getting vaccinated against influenza.

"Anyone who has a chronic condition, maybe a chronic lung condition or an illness that weakens their immune system, they're more likely to get the flu," Faith said.

No shortage of vaccine is anticipated this year, so everyone is encouraged to be vaccinated.

The shots will be available to the public at a cost of $25 each, although forms will be provided to allow those with Medicare to file a claim for reimbursement.

Flu shots are free for existing Healthwise VIP members.

Pneumonia shots will also be available at a cost of $35 each.

Payment may be made by cash or check. No credit cards will be accepted.

Faith said a common misconception that patients can contact the flu from the flu shot is not correct.

"They can't get the flu from the flu vaccine," Faith said.

"It's not a live vaccine. They can get flu-like symptoms, but it will be much different from the flu, because it should last only one or two days, where the flu can last a week or longer. There's not a live virus in the vaccine."

Flu season begins in November and runs through April.

With the $25 payment for the flu shot, residents will also receive a one-year membership to the Healthwise VIP program.

That program provides a number of activities and educational opportunities focused on patient health throughout the year.

Laviana Plaza is located at 700 Flournoy Road, and the clinic is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, contact 1-800-451-3631.