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Vote and get vaccinated in Lake City

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Voting on Tuesday is good for the health of the country and, in Lake City, it is also going to be good for the health of the individual voter.

Mayor Willie Oswald announced that the city will be offering flu shots at the polls on Nov. 4, linking the inoculations with election day in the city's second "Vote and Vax."

"Come vote, and get vaccinated while you're there," Oswald said. "Just while you're there, for the convenience of it."

The shots are being administered by the county's health department, and cost $25 for those who aren't on Medicare. Last year, more than 80 people, mostly senior citizens, were vaccinated against the flu. Oswald said the idea stems from his work with the Atlanta Regional Commission's aging committee, and concerns about caring for senior citizens.

"They're here, so we better take care of them," Oswald said. "The older population is really going to explode. By 2020, one in five will be 65 or older, and a lot of these older citizens, they don't have any income. They don't have retirement. But anything we can do to help these citizens, we need to try to do to meet their needs. They're here and there are going to be more of them. Somebody's got to take care of them."

The mayor himself, a senior citizen, said he's been getting annual flu shots for the past decade, and he's a firm believer in their effectiveness.

"I've never had the flu -- knock on wood. You know, I'll get a sniffle, but I won't really get sick. I haven't been bedridden with the flu. It's a proven fact, the shots work ... Even if the strain that comes isn't the one you've been vaccinated against, it's not as severe, because you have that vaccine," Oswald said.

The city paid for all the city employees, including the police officers, to get vaccinated last year, and saw a decrease in sick days over the winter months.

This year, Oswald is inviting even those who don't live in the city to get their shots on Nov. 4.

"Anybody can come get them," he said. "It's $25. One prescription to fend off the flu will cost you more than that. If you get the flu, it will cost you more than that for one doctor's office visit."