Local health department schedules flu clinics for high-risk candidates

By Rozella Hardin
star staff

  The Carter County Health Department has announced that the influenza vaccination will be administered on Oct. 20 and 27 at the Health Department Annex.
   According to Caroline Hurt, director, only high-risk candidates will be given the vaccine due to the critical shortage of flu vaccine this year and efforts to redistribute available supplies to help alleviate the shortage. "We will follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines," she explained.
  The vaccine will be given to the following persons ONLY:
  * All adults aged 65 years and older
  * All children aged 6-23 months
  * Persons aged 2-64 years with underlying chronic medical conditions (including heart disease; lung disease, such as asthma; metabolic diseases such as diabetes; kidney disease, anemia and other blood disorders; weakened immune system due to HIV/AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system; long-term treatment with drugs such as steroids, or cancer treatment with x-rays or drugs)
  * All women who will be pregnant during influenza season
  * Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities
  * Children aged 6 months-18 years on chronic aspirin therapy
  * Health-care workers involved in direct patient care
  * Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children under 6 months of age
  Hurt said persons attending the clinic will have to complete an influenza vaccine priority questionnaire to assist staff in determining eligibility for the vaccine. "They must fall into one of the high-risk categories in order to receive the vaccine," Hurt stressed. "Persons who do not fall into one of the high-risk categories should not even show up at the clinic," said Hurt, who noted that the health department's flu vaccination supply is significantly lower this year than in the past. "We hope to have enough to cover these two clinics. We have approximately 850 doses to be utilized among all those identified by CDC guidelines," she said.
  Hurt said it is not known at this time if the local department will receive any additional doses of flu vaccine this season.
  "We anticipate a large number of people to be served at the clinics. The staff will try to move them through as quickly as possible," Hurt said.
   However, persons wishing to receive the pneumonia vaccine will not be required to meet CDC eligibility guidance.
  Individuals with TennCare coverage are encouraged to contact their primary care provider or call the health department for appointments and other information regarding flu and pneumonia shots.
  Hurt said persons who have John Deere Secure Plus Medicare MUST go to their Primary Care Provider to get flu and pneumonia shots this year if they want Medicare to pay for the vaccine. "The Health Department cannot bill Medicare for John Deere Secure Plus enrollees. If you want to get your shot from the Health Department, you will be required to pay the fee," she explained.
  "We will bill Medicare Part B for the flu and pneumonia shot. We cannot bill private insurance," Hurt further explained.
  Parents who have a child/children under the age of 6 years should call the health department for an appointment to get the flu vaccine.
  "We will bill private insurance and TennCare for flu shots for infants and children," she said
  The cost of the vaccine is $17 for the flu shot and $25 for the pneumonia shot. Clinics are scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 20, from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 27, from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Both clinics will be held at the Health Department Annex.
   Please call 543-2521 for more information or for identified groups who need an appointment. Persons calling for an appointment will be screened per the CDC guidelines for eligibility to receive the flu vaccine.