KCUR News
12:33 pm
Mon December 27, 2010

KC Gets Infusion of Free Flu Shots To Combat Vaccine Disparities

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City, Missouri is getting an infusion of free flu vaccines this winter - 20,000 to be exact. And, they're being directed towards people who may be less likely to get the shot.

Walgreens recently donated the shots to help reduce vaccine disparities.

Captain Jose Belardo is Acting Regional Health Administrator with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - he's overseeing the initiative.

He says African Americans, Latinos, and people with low-incomes are much less likely to get the flu vaccine. He says a big reason for this has to do with access and affordability - the shot can cost up to $30 for someone without health insurance.

"A number of people have to make some tough decisions to either receive a flu shot or use those resources for other things such as daily necessities," says Capt. Belardo.

But Capt. Belardo also says across the board, vaccination rates have been really low this year, compared to when H1N1 first hit last year.

"And that's very problematic," he says. "We're right in the core of flu season right now."

He says vouchers for the free shots are being given out through community organizations, churches, WIC offices and other places throughout the metro.

Kansas City is one of eight cities nationwide getting the free shots from Walgreens.

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