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Free Flu Shots Offered in 15 Communities


If you live in one of the 15 underserved communities identified by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), you may be eligible for a free flu shot. The HHS and Walgreens have teamed up to provide about 350,000 doses of flu vaccine, a project that will launch next week in eight communities.

Flu shots are recommended for nearly everyone

This year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidelines, which now recommend that everyone age 6 months and older receive a flu shot, including people at low-risk (those aged 19 to 49 years). The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended this change because it had concerns that a “substantial proportion” of young adults could be susceptible to H1N1-like viruses. The American Academy of Pediatrics has also called for mandatory flu shots for all healthcare workers.

The first eight US communities to be offered the flu shots are Atlanta, Bronx (NY), Chicago, Houston, Kansas City (Missouri), Newark (NJ), Oakland (CA), and Philadelphia, according to an ABC report. Following this initial effort, other communities to be added will include Fort Lauderdale, Miami-Dade County, Palm Beach (FL), Seattle, Waco (TX), the District of Columbia, and various areas of New Hampshire.

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According to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, only about one-third of Americans have received a flu shot this season, and many who have not been vaccinated come from minority communities. Sebelius also notes that free flu shots are also available through Medicare, Medicaid, and the Vaccines for Children program.

In August 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved vaccines for the 2010 to 2011 flu season that reportedly protect against three strains of influenza: the H1N1-like virus that caused the 2009 pandemic swine flu epidemic, the A/Perth (H3N2)-like virus, and the B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus. These components were chosen by the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee because they are believed to be the most likely to cause the flu in the upcoming season.

To get a free flu shot, individuals will need to get a voucher, which will be distributed through community outreach programs by public health officials in the 15 communities selected. Outreach efforts will include mail and phone reminders, public service announcements, and information extended to businesses, schools, and senior and family service centers.

This page is updated on May 12, 2013.