Health Care

Got your flu shot yet? County public health centers are giving them starting Oct. 5.

First Lady Kristin Cooper's flu shot

First Lady Kristin Cooper getting her seasonal flu shot at the Wake County Public Health Center in Raleigh.
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First Lady Kristin Cooper getting her seasonal flu shot at the Wake County Public Health Center in Raleigh.

Wake County will soon start offering flu shots for the public at four locations for residents who don’t get their annual vaccination at work or their doctor’s office.

County public health officials kicked off this year’s vaccination program Tuesday at the county’s Public Health Center in Raleigh by giving a seasonal flu shot to the state’s first lady Kristin Cooper. Baring her left arm, Cooper smiled for the flashing cameras as a nurse injected the vaccine.

“Didn’t feel a thing,” Cooper gamely said.

The county will begin offering walk-in flu shots for the public every Thursday from Oct. 5 through Nov. 16 at the Public Health Center at 10 Sunnybrook Road in Raleigh.

Flu shots will also by offered by appointment at county offices in Zebulon, Wake Forest and Fuquay-Varina.

Flu season traditionally begins on Oct. 1, but the virus doesn’t always cooperate; the viral contagion can start spreading as early as summer or wait until late winter. North Carolina typically sees a peak in January or February. In the last flu season, 219 people died of flu-related deaths in the state, including 22 in Wake County.

State health director Elizabeth Tilson, who is also the chief medical officer at the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said there was strong demand for public flu shots last year and she expects a similar level of interest this year. The county has 9,750 flu shots available, same as last year, and used 98 percent of the vaccines last year.

Q: Who can use the county’s flu clinic?

Anyone. Most of those who use the county’s flu clinic are uninsured, on Medicaid or covered by N.C. Health Choice, Tilson said. N.C. Health Choice is a health insurance program available for children of families whose household incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid, but too low to afford private insurance.

Q: What does it cost?

For payment, people insured by Medicaid, Medicare part B and Blue Cross Blue Shield may have to pay a co-pay under the terms of their health plan. Medicaid-covered adults 21 and older may be charged a $3 co-pay for their vaccine. Others can pay at the time of the flu shot and submit to their insurance company for reimbursement on their own.

There is no charge for flu shots to uninsured pregnant women without health insurance, and to residents under 19 who qualify for the federal Vaccines for Children Program.

For all other residents, there is a $30 charge per shot. The county also offers a high dose flu vaccine for $60 for people 65 and older who require stronger protection. There is no sliding scale to discount the cost of flu shots for low-income residents, as there is for other public health services provided by Wake County Human Services.

By comparison, CVS charges $40.99 for a traditional flu shot and $67 for a high dose shot.

Q: When can Wake County employees get their shots?

There will be vaccination days for county employees on Oct. 3 and Oct. 10. County employees who can’t make those walk-in dates can also make an appointment for a flu shot at the Public Health Center.

Q: Who should get a flu shot?

The vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.

Q: Can I get the nasal spray this year?

There are concerns about the spray’s effectiveness and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people get the shot instead.

Q: Do I need to get it now?

Yes, Tilson said that before the end of October as it takes several weeks to become fully effective.

John Murawski: 919-829-8932, @johnmurawski

To get a shot

9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays Oct. 5-Nov. 16, Public Health Center, 10 Sunnybrook Road, Raleigh. 919-250-3900. No appointment is needed at this location on Thursdays.

Flu shots are available by appointment Monday-Friday at these locations:

▪ Public Health Center, 10 Sunnybrook Road, Raleigh. 919-250-3900

▪ Eastern Regional Center, 1002 Dogwood Drive, Zebulon. 919-404-3900

▪ Northern Regional Center, 350 E. Holding Ave., Wake Forest. 919-562-6300

▪ Southern Regional Center, 130 North Judd Parkway, Fuquay Varina. 919-557-2501