The Howard County Health Fair may be one of the biggest bargains to be had in Howard County. The annual event, which takes place this year on Thursday, Oct. 22 at the Kokomo Event Center, offers important health screenings that cover the human body from head to toe, all at no charge.

It's an outstanding opportunity to identify problems early, gain peace of mind, learn useful health information, and get a seasonal flu shot at just the right time. The event is sponsored by Partners for a Healthier Community.

This year more than 50 booths will provide free health screenings and educational materials. Participants can be tested for cholesterol level, blood pressure, blood sugar level, Body Mass Index (BMI), bone density, hearing, vision, HIV, pulmonary function, oxygen saturation, carbon monoxide, balance, and much more.

Not only will participants have an opportunity to improve their own health, they'll also be able to help someone else by donating blood through the Indiana Blood Center's blood drive from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"This year the theme of the Health Fair is 'Make Your Health Shine in '09'," said Cathy Greene, chair of the Howard County Health Fair Committee. "We've expanded the health fair to offer greater value than ever before. We estimate the value of the screenings, if a participant were to take advantage of every one offered, is approximately $1,000. Not only can visitors get all of this health information at no charge, but they have the convenience of getting it all in one day, in one location."

Flu and pneumonia shots will be administered by the Howard County Health Department and Visiting Nurse Services for individuals 18 and over. A $15 donation is requested to offset the cost of the serum, but individuals who cannot afford the donation will not be denied the vaccine.

Medicare Part B and Medicare Managed Care plans will be accepted as long as participants bring their insurance card.

Kokomo's two premiere hospitals, Howard Regional Health System and St. Joseph Hospital, are key participants in the health fair. Both facilities will perform screenings and provide health information. In addition, St. Joseph Hospital will provide free adult emergency ID cards through K-ID's BMV. The Howard Regional Health System Foundation will provide the seasonal flu serum.

While many of the screenings require that individuals have fasted before getting tested, there will be food available for purchase after the testing. Jefferson Manor will operate the food court and offer a selection of items.

A Kids Corner will be provided by IUK Nursing students from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Pharmacists from CVS, Herbst Pharmacy, and Walgreens will be available to answer questions about prescription drugs.

"Every year a committee of dedicated community partners volunteers thousands of hours over the course of months to plan the upcoming Health Fair," noted Greene. "The reason we do it is because we know that the Howard County Health Fair saves lives. Last year, more than 44 percent of the total cholesterol screenings came back as being at an unsafe level and an astonishing 70 percent of the blood pressures taken were out of range. By alerting people to health issues we give them time to make changes that can improve their health and increase their enjoyment of life."

For more information about the Howard County Health Fair, please call 236-8195.