First flu shots of season offered

By Ed Brock

On the first day of their flu-shot clinic at Southlake Mall registered nurses Amanda Brown-Smith and Lonnie Hash had stuck needles in customers both young and old alike.

"We've had people in the early 20s to probably early 60s," Brown-Smith said. "One couple said they were going out of the country and had heard they needed to get a flu shot."

The mall and Clinical Health Systems have partnered to distribute the flu shots, along with pneumonia shots, starting this weekend and continuing until Oct. 30.

"Last year many people were unable to receive a flu shot due to the vaccine shortage and this year we are encouraging everyone to get their flu shot as soon as possible," said Blair Hanloh, director of corporate operations for Clinical Health Systems.

The shots cost $25 for the flu and $35 for pneumonia, and Brown-Smith said they are only giving doses to people over 18.

"We recommend that children be done at a pediatrician," Brown-Smith said.

Meanwhile, the Clayton County Board of Health has not yet determined when they will begin offering flu vaccinations, spokeswoman Veronda Griffin said.

"We're still waiting for the supply to be sent from the state," Griffin said. "Right now we're anticipating having a good supply."

According to the latest "Influenza Vaccine Bulletin" from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta manufacturers of the vaccine, including GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur, Inc., are expected to produce between 71 and 97 million doses of vaccine. Last year only about 61 million doses were produced.

Griffin said the price of the shots for this year has not yet been determined, but last year they cost $20. Regardless of the supply the vaccine will be available to priority groups before it will be distributed to the general public.

Those priority groups include people 65 years old and older with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, asthma or diabetes, anybody else with those same health conditions, pregnant women, children between 6 and 23 months old, health care workers who have direct contact with patients and residents of long term care facilities.

Individual doctors may get their flu doses at varying times.

The American Lung Association and Maxim Health Systems are providing a flu vaccine clinic locator at www.flucliniclocator.org/.