Seasonal flu shots available

Published 10:20 pm Monday, September 21, 2009

It’s that time of year again: Time to roll up your sleeve, brace yourself and get shot in the arm.

Monday through Thursday, Seasonal Flu Vaccination Clinics are being held at the Suffolk Health Department from 1 to 3 p.m.

“We’re definitely encouraging people to go ahead and get the seasonal flu vaccine,” said Dr. Lisa McCoy, director for the Western Tidewater Health District. “There is a lot of discussion and concern about H1N1, but people should not wait until that is available to get the seasonal flu shot.”

A vaccine for the H1N1 virus (more commonly known as the swine flu) will be delivered sometime in mid- to late October. While it is being developed, there is still little known about the vaccine, specifically whether it will be given in two doses or one.

In the meantime, medical experts across the board are encouraging patients to get the seasonal flu vaccine to help limit the risk of catching that virus.

McCoy said staff at the Health Department have been giving the vaccine by appointment only during the two-blocks to help cut down on wait time for patients.

“We are setting up appointments,” McCoy said, “but we’re obviously not going to turn people away. They can walk in, but they might have to wait a bit longer.”

Anyone interested in getting their flu shot from the health department should call 514-4783 to make a flu vaccine appointment or to get other flu-related information.

Additionally, McCoy said people coming to get the vaccine need to bring an insurance card and a photo ID. She added the shot costs $30, which is usually billed to the insurance provider. But if people do not want to go through their provider, they can pay on site.

McCoy added that once the department receives word on the H1N1 vaccine, it will provide information on that vaccination’s availability. Until then, McCoy will be holding free public education sessions to talk about the H1N1 virus. The first will be held, Oct.7 at 6:30 p.m. at the North Suffolk library, and will cover topics including the history of H1N1, the differences between it and other flu viruses as well as who can receive the H1N1 vaccine.

For more information about the program, call 514-7150 or visit the website at www.suffolk.lib.va.us

McCoy said additional programs may be held at the health department based on the response at the library.