October 25, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 43

Health office reduces flu shot availability

If you get your annual flu shot at the Haines public health nurse office, you may be getting it elsewhere this year.

A change in eligibility requirements will significantly reduce the number of state-supplied flu vaccines the office can provide this season.

Adult flu vaccines still will be available at the office for uninsured and underinsured adults and for children eligible under the Vaccines for Children program. However, those with Medicare Part B are now considered “insured” with respect to the vaccine and are therefore ineligible to receive the flu shot there.

Office assistant Deb Stanford estimated that the center typically provides between 320 and 350 flu vaccines each season. Due to the restrictions, Stanford expects the center will administer only about 50 vaccines.

Those not qualifying for the flu shot through the public health office can go the Haines medical clinic, where it will cost about $50. The vaccine costs $28 at the public health office. Both offer a sliding scale option for those who qualify.

Clinic administrator Marcia Scott said she expects to see an increase in patients seeking the flu vaccine this year because of the change, but hopes the cost will not be a deterrent.

Scott also said she understands Medicare Part B and Medicaid patients will be able to get flu shots at the clinic at no charge and that Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium will directly bill the federal insurance programs.

Individuals not covered under Medicare Part B and Medicaid should check with their insurance providers to learn whether they are responsible for any or all of the $50, Scott said.

For more information, contact the public health nurse office at 766-3300.