Health Care

September 15, 2012

Flu shots become available in advance of season

The signs are popping up already: Get your flu shot here.

The signs are popping up already: Get your flu shot here.

Vaccines are available at Walgreens, Dillons, Sam’s Club, Walmart and Target stores, at prices ranging from $25 to $31.99 for those who pay out of pocket.

But the Sedgwick County Health Department, which has offered thousands of flu shots in the past, will have only a limited supply this year. The department will make 500 shots available for uninsured residents starting Oct. 1 on a first-come, first-served basis, said Claudia Blackburn, director.

County budget cuts are part of the reason for the lower supply, but the widespread availability of flu vaccine at other locations in the community is another factor, she said.

“There’s plenty of places to go to get a flu shot, and the prices are comparable to what we charge,” Blackburn said.

Most clinics that serve low-income residents say they have been advised by doctors to wait until October so that the shots don’t wear off too soon.

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends immunizations be given as soon as a supply becomes available to a community, said Charles Hunt, state epidemiologist with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The CDC claims that flu seasons can start in October, and it takes about two weeks after being vaccinated for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection.

The CDC recommends that everyone who is at least six months or older get flu shots this season, especially those who are at high risk of developing serious complications from the disease, including pregnant women, people 65 or older, and those with certain medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and chronic lung diseases.

The Guadalupe Clinic at 940 S. St. Francis will provide free flu shots on Oct. 20 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in coordination with the United Way, the KU School of Pharmacy Academy of Student Pharmacists, and the KU School of Medicine JayDocs

The annual event usually provides flu shots to 500 to 1,000 people, said Pam Stanberry, Guadalupe’s executive director, who is working on the project with Robert Emerson of the KU School of Pharmacy.

The E.C. Tyree Health Clinic, 1525 N. Lorraine, will start offering flu shots in October. They will be free for children 18 and under, $25 for adults.

The Center for Health and Wellness, 2707 E. 21st St., also will start offering immunization in October. Cost hasn’t been determined. It was $20 last year, a spokesperson said.

The Hunter Health Clinic, 2318 E. Central, has begun giving shots to adults for $18.50. It will start offering immunizations to children on Oct. 1.

Hunt said it is too early to know what kinds of flu strains will occur this season. Flu seasons are unpredictable and viruses are constantly changing, he said.

The CDC said the vaccine for the 2012-2013 flu season has been developed to protect against three strains — H1N1, H3N2 and a B strain.

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