COLUMBIA, SC — The signs at many Midlands pharmacies herald the start of the new flu vaccine season.
And in case you think it’s too early, the state health department reported one lab-confirmed flu case last week, the first in about a month.
Federal health officials use last year’s flu surveillance statistics to determine the most effective makeup for the 2013-14 flu vaccine. Last year, they admitted the vaccine wasn’t as effective as desired.
This year, the vaccine is designed to protect against particular versions of Influenza A H1N1, Influenza A H3N2 and Influenza B. (The S.C. case last week was a H3N2 variation.)
The vaccine already is available at many pharmacies. Physicians and state health clinics usually get their supplies soon after pharmacies.
There shouldn’t be a shortage. Manufacturers have pledged to produce between 135 and 139 million doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Medicare, Medicaid and many private insurance policies pay for flu shots. Those without insurance or whose insurance doesn’t cover shots can expect to pay about $25 for a vaccine, depending on the provider.