Cost of flu shots rises; supply limited

For those at high risk, the Health Department will start giving shots Wednesday.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:33 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

Flu shots from Columbia/Boone County Health Department will cost five dollars more than last year, and because of limited supplies they will be available only to residents of Boone County between the ages of 4 and 50 with chronic health conditions and those over 50, according to health officials.

The Health Department will begin administering flu shots for members of the population considered to be at high risk on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 1005 W. Worley Street.

The Health Department will also offer drive-through vaccinations for all residents over the age of 50 on Nov. 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the same location.

Doctor’s offices and clinics have already started offering flu shots, and 75 million doses of flu vaccine were expected to be in most doctor’s offices and clinics by the end of October, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Flu shots and flu mist will cost $20 per dose, and pneumonia shots will cost $25 per dose. The Health Department accepts payments by Medicaid, Medicare, cash and check but is unable to bill private insurance. Flu mist, an intranasal spray vaccine, is available only to people in good health between the ages of 5 and 49.

Baer said the increased costs were due to increases in fees charged by the vaccine providers and personnel needed to administer the vaccine and that the Health Department does not profit from the vaccination program.

Residents at high risk include people over 50 years old and women who are pregnant or women who may become pregnant during the flu season. Also at risk are adults and children over the age of 4 with chronic health conditions such as heart disease, asthma and other lung disorders, diabetes, cancer, blood disorders, muscle and nerves disorders such as seizures or severe cerebral palsy; as well as all adults and children over the age of 4 who have weakened immune systems.

The CDC expanded high-risk flu shot recommendations this year to children from ages 2 to 5, which is about 5.3 million healthy U.S. children.

But, Baer said, the incremental release of the vaccine and restrictions placed on shipment by the vaccination providers meant the Health Department was unable to secure the appropriate dosages for children under the age of 4. Those with children under the age of 4, who think them to be at high risk for contracting influenza, are advised to contact their pediatrician or other flu shot providers to obtain vaccinations.

Baer said that people who are home-bound and want to be vaccinated should consult with their in-home care providers or contact the Health Department for more information.

The Health Department warns that people with severe allergic reactions to eggs, allergic reactions to previous flu shots, Guillain-Barre syndrome, or have a fever or illness the day they plan to get the vaccine, should not be vaccinated.

Baer said that the Health Department hopes to secure enough vaccine to offer inoculations to the public and that preliminary dates were being discussed, but that she couldn’t divulge those dates yet.

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