Here's what the health department is saying about the flu shot

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As flu season approaches, the Cleveland County Health Department is urging residents to consider getting the flu shot. DeShay Oliver, deputy health director for the Cleveland County Public Health Center weighs in on the cost, which groups should get the vaccine and why time is of the essence.

Q: Why are flu shots still important?

A: According to the CDC, while influenza viruses circulate year-round, most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, but activity can last as late as May. You should not wait for flu activity to be high in your community to get a flu vaccine. Remember, after you are vaccinated, your body takes about two weeks to develop antibodies that protect against the flu. You can help protect yourself and your loved ones this holiday season by getting your flu vaccine.

Q: When is the health department issuing flu shots?

A: The flu vaccine is available at the Cleveland County Health Department Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with no appointment necessary.

Q: Is there a cost?

A: The vaccine is free of charge for children 18 and younger who have Medicaid, do not have insurance or are underinsured (meaning insurance does not cover the flu vaccine). The vaccine will also be free for uninsured (non-Medicaid) pregnant women 19 and older who are serviced by the health department and women 19 and older who have a family planning waiver and are receiving services at the health department. If you have insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, we will bill these third-party payers. If you do not meet the above criteria or do not have insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, the charge for the vaccine is $50. We also have available a limited number of the Flublok vaccines for those 18 and older and High Dose flu vaccines for those 65 and older. Insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, can be billed for these vaccines, or the cost is $85.

A nurse prepares a flu shot.
A nurse prepares a flu shot.

Q: Is there any additional information important for the public to know?

A: The CDC recommends the flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older with few exceptions. People over 65, adults with chronic health conditions and women who are pregnant are at greatest risk for severe illness.

Latrice Williams can be reached at 704-669-3339 and lwilliams6@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on The Shelby Star: health director deshay oliver talks flu vaccine and when to get it

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