October 31, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

Anybody in Union County who wants a flu shot probably will be able to get it this year, says Dr. James Winde, public health medical officer.

Many people at high risk of flu or flu complications already have been immunized, he said. The public health department at the Center for Human Development begins immunization of the general public today.

Immunization clinic hours are from 1 to 6:30 p.m. Monday and Thursday and from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the CHD on K Avenue. Immunizations cost $12 each.

Most private physicians have either received their vaccines or will receive them within a week or so, Winde said.

Dr. Ann Haugen, a physician at the La Grande Pediatric Clinic, has begun immunization of her high-risk young patients. Haugen will have a flu shot clinic for her established patients from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 14. Families should call for appointments, she said.

Haugen is especially concerned that all high-risk children be immunized against flu.

Anyone in close contact with high-risk children should also get the shot, she said.

Children who are at risk of complications from flu include those who have chronic lung diseases such as asthma or cystic fibrosis, chronic cardiac conditions, diabetes, kidney disease or immune system dysfunction. Children under 18 who are on aspirin therapy should be immunized because of the risk of Reyes Syndrome, she said. Those younger than 9 will need two shots for the vaccine to be effective.

They should get in as soon as possible, she said.

A spokeswoman at the Fourth Street Clinic said about 1,800 doses are expected next week and immunizations will be limited to clinic patients. No appointment is necessary.

Winde said that Union Countys public health department received its vaccine earlier than some counties.

This years flu is expected to be fairly severe, he said, but no cases have been documented in the county yet. Flu usually hits in late January but sometimes arrives as early as December. The season can last through March.

Winde said public health nurse Trisha Blackman has been diligent in organizing clinics for high-risk people.

She has done an outstanding job of watching the situation and making sure everybody who wants to get the flu vaccine gets it, he said.

Winde hopes to reach a 34 percent immunization rate.

We may be able to get more doses this year and really push and see if we can beat the 34 percent, he said.