Flu vaccines ready at midstate health departments

For some folks, it takes the first sniffle or cold snap to think about the approaching flu season.

But flu vaccines are already at health departments across Middle Georgia, and they’re coming in more forms than ever.

It may seem like the vaccines have arrived earlier than usual, but that’s not the case, said Jennifer Jones, public information officer for the North Central Health District.

This year, “there have been no shortages in vaccines -- and no delays in the vaccines,” she said. There were delays in 2009, for example, when health officials dealt with outbreaks of the H1N1 flu virus.

Four different types of vaccines are now available, depending on where you live.

Each county health department in the North Central district, for example, can provide traditional flu shots as well as Flu Mist -- a nasal spray, Jones said.

Some health departments also are offering an “intra­dermal” flu shot -- injected just under the skin instead of into muscle -- and some of the departments can provide a high-dose flu shot, which many residents 65 and older get.

Bibb County, for example, offers the high-dose flu shot, but not the intradermal one.

Flu season usually begins in October and can last through May. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a yearly vaccine, but particularly those 50 and older, school-age children, health care workers, those with chronic health conditions and women who will be at any stage of pregnancy during flu season.

Flu shots and Flu Mist are both available at the Macon-Bibb County Health Department, at 171 Emery Highway, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Appointments are preferred. Each vaccine costs $25.

A drive-through clinic will be available Sept. 19-21 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In Warner Robins, flu vaccines are available at the Houston County Health Department, 98 Cohen Walker Drive. Those interested in getting vaccinated may walk in any time between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. The clinic is open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Tuesdays. The cost is $25, though there is no charge to those with certain types of insurance.

Nurses from the health department will be at Rozar Park in Perry from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday to service the Perry area, said Heather Holloway, a registered nurse with the Houston County Health Department.

Flu vaccines are available at no charge to those on Medicaid, PeachCare and Medicare Part B. The high-dose version of the injectable flu vaccine costs $55, if not covered by other insurance.

Health departments also are offering a pneumonia vaccine, which is recommended for people 65 and older. Some people qualify for the vaccine at a reduced price.

Health officials are also making plans to get students vaccinated.

Free flu vaccine will be available to Houston County public school students at their schools starting Sept. 25. The vaccine also will be offered at some private schools. Parents should receive a permission slip from their child’s school notifying them about the vaccine.

Letters should go home soon to Bibb County parents as well, with vaccines offered in schools by late September to early October, Jones said.

There will be no out-of-pocket costs for vaccines provided at schools.