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Flu shots available in many forms

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GINA R. HEINE
October 13, 2012

— People leery of needles have a new, less scary option for the flu shot this year.

The Rock County Health Department and many other providers are offering the intradermal flu vaccine delivered by a tiny needle into the skin instead of the muscle. It's intended for people who fear needles, said Janet Zoellner, Rock County Health Department nursing director.

It costs no more and is available for people ages 18 to 64.

"Usually the nurse will present that choice to you," she said.

The intradermal vaccination is one method of receiving the flu vaccine. While flu season typically doesn't start until January, now is a good time to hit an area flu vaccination clinic, Zoellner said.

No problems with vaccine supply have been reported this year, Zoellner said. The vaccine protects against three strains of influenza, including H1N1, which caused the 2009 pandemic.

Researchers make their best guesses months in advance of what vaccines should be manufactured to protect people against flu strains expected in the coming winter. Their estimates are based partly on the varieties of flu that circulated in the Southern Hemisphere during winter there, she said.

Last year's flu season was mild, but local officials won't know the severity of the flu season this winter until January or February.

"Every year has a little different character," Zoellner said.

Health officials recommend everyone 6 months old and older get a flu shot.

A new high-dose vaccine is available for people 65 and older because their immune systems sometimes don't react well, she said.

The high-dose vaccine has four times the amount of the antigen that causes the immune system to build resistance, she said.

Zoellner hears all the time from people who say they got the flu shot and still got the flu. A lot of people think the flu is a stomach ailment, but it's not, she said. The vaccine protects people against a respiratory infection—high fever, achy body, severe cough and respiratory issues.

Eligibility changed for free childhood vaccinations

Because of changes mandated in the federal Affordable Care Act, the Rock County Health Department will no longer provide free childhood vaccinations to children who have insurance.

A federal program that provides free childhood vaccinations is designed only for children who don't have access to vaccinations covered by insurance, said Janet Zoellner, nursing director at the health department.

While the health department has never turned away kids, about 30 percent of kids who receive vaccinations from the heath department are covered by insurance, she said. Now, the department is allowed to see kids with insurance only once, and their parents will be informed they have to see a private doctor in the future, she said.

The change will affect about 1,600 kids in Rock County, Zoellner said.

With health care reform changes that started Aug. 1, everyone with insurance is supposed to receive vaccines without a co-pay or deductible at their clinics, she said.

The health department will continue to provide free childhood vaccines for kids with no insurance, those on medical assistance, those who have insurance that doesn't cover vaccinations and American Indians or Alaskan Natives.

FLU VACCINE CLINICS

Flu vaccine clinics are being offered locally at these locations:

Rock County Health Department

Adults (injectable, Flumist, intradermal) are $25, high dose for seniors is $25, and children are $5. Medicare Part B and Forward Health are accepted with your card.

-- Edgerton Public Library, 101 Albion St., Edgerton: 3-5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16.

-- Grinnell Hall, 631 Bluff St., Beloit: 1-3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18.

-- Rock County Senior Fair, Holiday Inn Express, 3100 Wellington Place, Janesville: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26.

-- Appointments also can be made for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays by calling 608-757-5440 at the health department's north office, 3328 Highway 51, Janesville, or by calling 608-364-2010 for the south office, 61 Eclipse Center, Beloit.

Dean Clinic-Janesville East

Appointments optional at 608-371-8250. Cost sent to insurance.

Adult clinics

-- 8 a.m.-noon Thursdays, Oct. 11-25; Nov. 1-15; Tuesdays, Oct. 16, 23; Nov. 6, 20; and Wednesday, Nov. 21.

-- 1-4:30 p.m. and 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17.

-- 1-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24 and 31, Nov. 7, 14; and Tuesday, Oct. 30 and Nov. 13.

Pediatric clinics (up to age 18)

-- 5-8 p.m. Mondays, Oct. 22, Nov. 5, 19, and Dec. 3, 17.

-- 1-5 p.m. Tuesdays, Oct. 16-30, Nov. 6-27, and Dec. 4-18.

-- 9 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. Thursdays, Oct. 18, 25, Nov. 1-29, and Dec. 6-27.

-- 9 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26.

Mercy Health System

Cost of the vaccine is $29 (correct cash or check). Shots can be billed to Medicare for those who carry Medicare Part B insurance, or billed to MercyCare Health Plans for their members.

Six months old and older

-- Mercy Mall Clinic, 1010 N. Washington St., Janesville. 8:30 a.m.-noon Wednesdays, Oct. 17 and 24. Walk-ins only.

Ages 5 and older

-- Mercy Beloit Medical Center, 2825 Prairie Ave., Beloit. 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 8 a.m.-1 p.m. weekends. Walk-ins only.

-- Mercy Brodhead Medical Center, 2310 First Center Ave., Brodhead. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23. Walk-ins only.

-- Mercy Edgerton Medical Center, 217 N. Main St., Edgerton. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Walk-ins only.

-- Mercy Milton Medical Center, 725 S. Janesville St., Milton. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24. Walk-ins only.

Ages 8 and older

-- Mercy Health Mall, 1010 N. Washington St., Janesville. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20 and 8-11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24. Walk-ins only.

-- Mercy Clinic South, 849 Kellogg Ave., Janesville. 1-5 p.m. Thursdays, Oct. 18 and Nov. 1. Walk-ins only.

-- Mercy Health Mall Pharmacy, 1010 N. Washington St., Janesville. 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays, Oct. 17-31.

-- Mercy Walworth Hospital and Medical Center, Highways 50 and 67, Lake Geneva. 9 a.m.-noon, 1-4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18. Walk-ins welcome.



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