MEDINA-- In an effort to fight back against the flu, several state health department offices stayed open late on Monday to provide flu vaccinations.
At the Medina County Health Department, the vaccine was offered for children from six-months through 18 years old until 7 o'clock or while supplies lasted. According to health officials, the goal was to reach as many children as possible.
"If we just look at hospitalizations around the state, the number of hospitalizations in the state exceeds where we were at this time last year, significantly," said Lisa Strebler, the Medina County Health Department Director of Nursing.
Portage County also offered the shot at a cost of $10 for children and $20 for adults on Monday until 6 p.m.
The vaccination in Medina County cost $12 for Medina County children and $14.50 for out-of-county kids. Health officials in most communities, including Cuyahoga County, said the cost would be waived for lower-income families.
Willoughby Hills resident Michelle Williams is still recovering from the flu after missing two days of work. "Uh, [it's] terrible," said Williams. "Stuffy nose, sore throat, chest congestion, it was terrible!"
In Ohio, the season usually kicks into high gear in February, but health officials say we're ahead of schedule and more people are getting sick.
Laura Boswell has opted out of getting the vaccination, against the advice of health officials. "I really don't believe in it," said Boswell. "I know it does help some people but injecting myself with something that could possibly make sick - and then everyone that has the flu shot has gotten the flu - so, for me it's a no."
The Adult Public Health Nursing Supervisor in Medina County said you can't get sick from the shot. "You can get side effects, soreness, maybe where the shot is given. If you're getting it in the shot form - possibly you can get a fever, body aches and chills, but that should only last about a day or two," said Suzanne Kanner.
ide effects from the shot, according to Kanner, are better than side effects from the flu which can leave someone unable to work for several days. Sherall Hardy from Quick Employment in Cleveland said business is good for her temp employees who, like a lot of people, struggle with taking sick time.
"They know that this is a temporary assignment - it's a working interview - so most of the time, they have five days and I haven't had anyone call off sick," said Hardy.
"Don't, don't be a hero and go to work," advised Lisa Strebler, the Medina County Health Department Director of Nursing. "No, we want folks if they're sick to stay home."
Employers are not required by law to provide paid sick time, which can make a bad flu season even worse for those unwilling to take a day without a pay.
"I really feel for them," said Michelle Williams. "At least I did have PTO to take off so that was okay."
If you haven't gotten the shot, it's not too late. The staff in Medina County said it can take two weeks to build up immunity to the virus but that's still plenty of time for this flu season.
*Click here to read more about the flu.