published Friday, October 26th, 2012

Walker County Health Department out of flu vaccine

The Walker County Health Department was so successful in getting people to get vaccinated for the flu — including at a Sept. 26 drive-through flu shot clinic in LaFayette, Ga. — that it has run out of vaccine.

"The good news ... is there is plenty of flu vaccine available in the system this year," said Logan Boss, spokesman for the 10-county Northwest Georgia Public Health, which includes Walker, Catoosa and Dade counties.

"Flu shots are readily available at plenty of other places," Boss said, citing private physicians and big box retailers as offering reasonably priced flu shots.

Nationwide, health departments administer only about 10 percent of flu vaccine, Boss said.

He said counties place orders for vaccine based on the previous year's demand. The Dade County Health Department ordered 500 regular doses of flu vaccine and had 165 shots left as of Thursday, he said. Catoosa ordered 1,100 regular doses; the amount it had left wasn't available Thursday afternoon.

The county health departments charge $20 per flu shot. Boss has seen businesses charge from $18 to $30 per shot. They sometimes use the vaccinations as a "loss leader," he said, to entice customers.

"Public health is happy to have flu shots available at more locations than ever," he said. "It shouldn't be hard to find."

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department has flu shot vaccine available at its four clinics for $32 for adults with a $10 discount for the uninsured, said Nettie Gerstle, the department's Communicable Disease Program manager.

"There is lots of flu vaccine available in lots of different venues," Gerstle said. "Just about everybody that has a pharmacy is giving flu vaccine."

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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