Flu vaccine price to increase

— Health officials are not expecting a shortage of flu vaccine for the upcoming flu season, but the vaccine will cost more than last year.

The Visiting Nurse Association is expecting its first shipment of the vaccine next week. However, the vaccine will not be available to the general public until later in the month.

The first batch will be reserved for high-risk clients and seniors, said Marilyn Bouldin, the VNA's director of community care.

"We are getting a very small supply Nov. 1," Bouldin said. "We are expected to get more sometime later in the month.

"We might not get our total supply we requested until December, but we are expecting to get our total supply."

The cost for the vaccine this year will cost $15, which is a $5 increase from the year before.

There are three main reasons for the increase.

The first is the cost of the vaccine has gone up, Bouldin said.

The second reason is the VNA will be using syringes that are geared to protect nurses administering the shot.

Nurses will be using a syringe that extracts the needle before it is taken out of a person's arm, which protects nurses from needle pokes, Bouldin said.

"The needle is withdrawn into the barrel of the syringe before it is taken out of somebody's arm," she said. "The biggest danger to nurses is needle sticks from a contaminated needle."

The third reason for the increase is to account for salary increases.

"We need to stay competitive with the market," Bouldin said.

Although the vaccine will not be available until mid-November or even December, it will be available in time for the flu season.

"The vaccine takes two weeks to build up," she said. "The height of the flu season is not until January, so there is plenty of time to get the flu shot."

The flu shot will be administered through clinics and appointments, Bouldin said.

Along with the flu shot, the VNA is also offering a vaccine for pneumonia.

This vaccine costs $18 and is available through an appointment.

For more information about these two vaccines, call 879-1632.

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