Kansas City, MO – Kansas City's flu vaccine clinic opens today. This time last year, health officials were prioritizing shots for people based on certain health and age criteria. They were also grappling with a shortage of the H1N1 vaccine.
That's far from the case this year.
The Health Department now has the flu vaccine available on a walk-in basis. A single shot protects against both seasonal and H1N1 flu strains.
Jeff Hershberger, a department spokesperson, says despite the clinic now being open, it would be hard not to find the vaccine at this point.
"All these different clinics are offering it," says Hershberger. "There's the Walgreens, the CVSs throughout the city - and they almost all have the vaccine or are getting it."
That's in addition to doctors' offices and the American Red Cross, which starts its clinic next week.
More people should be getting the vaccine, too, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They now recommend everyone six months and older get the shot. That's in contrast to previous recs which prioritized people based on age and health status.
Hershberger says the idea is to directly and indirectly protect as many people as possible from the flu, including those more prone to suffer from complications.
"If you can't get it, then you can't spread it," says Hershberger.
H1N1 first surfaced last spring, but the World Health Organization recently declared the pandemic over.
Meanwhile, traditional flu season typically starts in October. Hershberger says the department is starting to see some sporadic, flu-like cases, but there have been no official reports yet.
Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.
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