Flu shots, already

Published 12:01 am Thursday, September 1, 2011

Nurse Cindy McAlpin administers a flu shot at a previous flu clinic. | File photo

Flu season is just around the corner, and local pharmacies are making preparation for the season.

Locally, Rite Aid pharmacies already have vaccines available for residents.

Eric Harkreader, Rite Aid spokesman, said walk-in appointments are available at both Covington County locations during pharmacy hours.

“There are no restrictions in Alabama as pharmacies are governed by (the state pharmacy association),” he said. “Anyone over age 3 may receive one.”

Cost is $27.99, he said.

“Flu shots are covered by many insurance plans,” he said. “Our pharmacists are always available to run your insurance ahead of time to see how much you will need to pay, if anything.”

Another local pharmacy, Pharmacare, will begin administering flu shots on Oct. 4.

“We will have them available at our East store every Tuesday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” said pharmacist Brooke Chapman. “This year, we are accepting Medicare and Medicaid. With Medicare, there is no cost, and Medicaid there is a small copay.”

For everyone else, the cost is $20 per shot.

Chapman said Pharmacare will also hold a drive-in flu clinic at the West location near Arby’s Fri., Oct. 14, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

“No insurance will be accepted that day,” she said. “The cost will be $20 per shot, but they won’t have to get out of the car.”

Chapman said flu vaccinations are crucial.

“It’s important to go ahead and get your flu vaccine now before it starts spreading through our schools and daycares,” she said. “Remember that children under 6 months can’t get the vaccine, so it’s very important for parents and caregivers to get vaccinated.”

The Alabama Department of Public Health issued a release Wednesday encouraging residents to receive the vaccination as soon as it becomes available.

“We recommend you receive a flu vaccine regardless of whether you had one last year,” said Dr. Donald Williamson, state health officer. “The CDC calls a yearly flu vaccine the first and most important step in protecting again this serious disease.”

Flu vaccines are recommended for those who are in the higher risk group, including:

• All children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2;

• Adults 50 years of age and older, especially those 65 years and older;

• Pregnant women;

• Children ages 6 months through 18 years with chronic aspirin therapy;

• Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities;

• People who are immunosuppressed;

• Health care workers;

• Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children less than 5 and adults 50 years and older; and

• People who are morbidly obese.

If you do become ill, contact your doctor for antiviral medicines.

And take these steps every day:

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. You can also use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

• Stay home if you are sick until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever or signs of a fever.

Specific dates for when the flu vaccine will be available at the Covington County Health Department were not available when The Star-News went to press.

However, ADPH spokesperson Tracey England said all vaccines went out to local health departments last week.