Effect Measure

Flu shots: a tale of two cities

OK, they’re not cities, they are states. Or cities in states. Whatever. But when it comes to flu shots they are quite different. First benighted Mississippi:

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports 27 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases in counties throughout Mississippi. The presence of influenza was documented by the MSDH Laboratory in the past few weeks.

“We are now in the peak season of influenza, which will last for the next couple of months,” said State Health Officer Dr. Ed Thompson. “If you haven’t gotten your flu shot, it’s time to get it now. It’s still not too late to get the vaccine.” Thompson noted that the flu vaccine takes one to two weeks to produce immunity, and flu season usually peaks in January through March.

The first confirmed case of the flu during the 2007-2008 season was reported in early November.

Health departments and clinics throughout Mississippi began distributing the flu vaccine in mid-October. The charge for flu vaccination is $25. Medicare Part B covers the cost of flu vaccination, so those with Medicare Part B should bring their cards with them to the clinic. Children ages six months through 18 years can receive flu vaccinations for $10. (Bigmedicine)

Jeez. They’re charging $25 to for a flu shot? People in Mississippi must be rich. Or the health department doesn’t care about flu. Or something. I can’t even imagine what.

Now Arizona:

If you have not yet gotten your flu shot – it’s not too late! The Arizona Partnership for Immunization (TAPI) and the Maricopa County Department of Public Health have again partnered with Phoenix Sky Harbor to offer FREE flu shots to visitors, travelers and employees for 6 days in January or while vaccine supplies last.

Arizona usually doesn’t see its peak flu season until February so there is still plenty of time to protect yourself and the ones you love from the flu.

The flu shots are open to the public for anyone over age four. Those who are especially susceptible to the flu and should get the vaccine include seniors, kids, pregnant women or anyone whose immune system is compromised. Anyone who comes into contact with these vulnerable groups should also get a flu shot. (Bigmedicine)

Free flu shots not just for your own citizens but visitors and travelers? Mississippi are you listening?

By the way here is something left by J-dog on the comment thread to our Flu Season post of a couple of days ago:

I just called my Primary Care Provider. The nurse told me that flu season is over. I suggested that it went through at least March, and she said no, it doesn’t and they are out of flu shots anyway.

Nurse please take note: flu season peaks between January and March. Before you hand out advice, know what you are doing. Just because you ran out of shots, doesn’t mean your patient doesn’t need one.


  1. #1 DemFromCT
    January 30, 2008

    Flu season is really variable… as early as late Nov, as late as March. January-Feb is typical for peak, but you can get sick at non-peak season.

    How do you know when peak is? When the right hand column hits 25%.

    For easy access, we also publish this at the end of the news post daily; it refreshes on Fridays.

  2. #2 herman
    January 30, 2008

    Does anyone know how many rupees it costs for a flu shot in India, and what percentage of the population can get a flu shot? What are the peak flu season months there?
    There is a report of about 19 people being transferred from a hospital in Malda India to BR Singh hospital in Calcutta. The patients appear to have bird flu symptoms, with high fever and chest pains.
    Specialists from Calcutta and Delhi have been sent to Malda.

  3. #3 Chase
    January 30, 2008

    This Ed Thompson is a busy guy, but damn he stays on script!

  4. #4 J-Dog
    January 30, 2008

    Thank you for the follow up post – it is exactly what I needed to see to reinforce my quest for getting a flu shot this season.

  5. #5 phytosleuth
    January 30, 2008

    So what are the confirmed cases of influenza in Arizona?
    CDC shows regional levels for Arizona and sporadic for Missouri. Hard to tell the benefit until the season is over?

  6. #6 revere
    January 30, 2008

    phyto: If you live in AZ why don’t you call the state health dept. and ask them? You’ll learn something and maybe they will, too. You can at least give them postive feedback for offering free flu shots.

  7. #7 Albert
    January 30, 2008

    wow. I noticed that niman has completely destroyed Newsnow by flooding it with his bogus stories. The Egypt hoax ended, and now he’s moved on to Bengal, lol.

  8. #8 Kevin
    January 30, 2008

    The Province of Ontario has offered free flu vaccinations for many years. The analysis is it saves the publicly funded health care system money overall via reduced hospitalizations. Hard to prove that, but the province continues to be willing to fund it. My own experience is it works, we partake every year and seem to have much less ILI than our inlaws with children of similar ages.
    The pneumonia vaccination is also free in Ontario for similar reasons.

  9. #9 Bill Snedden
    January 30, 2008

    revere: Note that you’ve interpolated a paragraph from the Mississippi story into the Arizona one…

    Other than that, here in NC many employers are also offering flu shots either for free or at reduced cost to their employees. IIRC, the state health dept. also offered them free to indigents…

  10. #10 wenchacha
    January 30, 2008

    I can’t believe you’re stumping for free flu shots, revere. Don’t you see that the prospect of FREE SHOTS will bring the poor and undocumented streaming in to get their govt. goodies? What possible good can come from innoculating all comers, regardless of their ability to pay?

    Why should my hard-earned dollars help to buy flu shots for all those people who choose to be less fortunate. It is a lifestyle choice, you know.

    (I keeeed.)

  11. #11 revere
    January 30, 2008

    Bill S.: Yikes. I went back and pasted that para. in place of a [snip] and I guess I was so tired I pasted it in in the wrong place. Will correct. Many thanks.

  12. #12 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 30, 2008

    Revere, most larger businesses in Mississippi offer free screenings, assessments, on site flu shots, via the Baptist network super vans that they have built up and roll them into the WalMart or business parking lots. Literally a doc in the box. Anyone presenting a state indigent health care card (Medicaid with state assist) and paying whatever the copay is gets to participate automatically.

    FYI-Its 30 bucks in Tennessee, and 15 for the kiddies. We have about a 48% participation rate by the number of doses handed out or given this year. Here is the Miss. reference.


    Miss. received a total of 230,000 flu doses to date and they were all used. Private ops apparently got a bigger dose lot of almost one million. This year flu shot participation is up to 44% of the state assuming the use of all of the vaccine and they are still shipping it in and its being used apparently. Flu is at the regional level in TN, AR, MS right now. Pretty heavy. I havent gotten it, nor have the family. One of which is not here but at G’town for college.

    Problem with Mississippi is that there is a hard core group of people that simply will not do the things that are needed. You might recall “Sugar Ditch” in Tunica County from the 60’s that LBJ said they would do something about and never did. Fast forward to the late 80’s. The casinos moved in, the taxes they paid built new housing and increased the ability of the state and county to get these people up and out of the rut…. Just being a cook pays about 29,000 plus benefits. The sweepers make about 24,000. More than enough to live in the government provided housing down there.

    Unemployment there before was about 63%. Worst in the nation. Here’s the kick in the ass…. The casino’s have been importing workers from East and West Africa because they cant get the locals to work….Government assistance is too high so they dont need to work. Government food stamps, government housing, government healthcare…..and even when its almost free they dont participate.

    This goes to infant mortality. This past year infant mortality was an issue with the legislature. Free vaccinations were offered. The parents never took them. Then when it was time to enroll them in school they cited they couldnt afford the vaccinations (remember in the fall they were free?). Then the school system had to foot the bill for the kids just to get them into school. Scuse me but if I had to only pay 10 bucks for my kid to be vaccinated, I just wouldnt buy myself a happy meal for two days.

    Less than 30% of pregnant women in MS. receive pre-natal care if their income is less than 30,000 annually and their education level is less than the 12th grade. There is the infant mortality rate that we hear about here so much. I am sure its the same in just about every S. State. Next year they will start cutting assistance for the first time since the Great Society in the state and there is growing accountability. You have to get a drug screening once every six months to receive assistance, but the kids are always taken care of. The new laws once in effect will take your kids if you are on something and test positive. You also have to actively seek work. The government has the right to do it under already existing law for child endangerment. To get them back as I understand it you have to be clean for two consecutive six month screenings and its a hair and urine test….

    I wouldnt call them benighted anymore.

  13. #13 gilmoreaz
    January 30, 2008

    Superbowl Sunday coming up this weekend. Glendale & Arizona are doing ALL they can to make it a wonderful experience. I’m not saying this is the only reason, or that it is a publicity stunt of any kind, but this is also a state that has a county sheriff who boasts he has cut food costs for prisoners to 30 cents a day.

  14. #14 anon
    January 30, 2008

    do flu-peaks in USA correlate with superbowl ?

  15. #15 revere
    January 30, 2008

    anon: With you it’s sometimes hard to tell when you are kidding (except I’ve never know you to kid), so I’ll give you a very short answer: No.

  16. #16 nsthesia
    January 30, 2008


    IMHO, MS isn’t so unusual. I’ve lived in the southeast US for most of my life, and every state around has charged for the influenza AND pneumonia vaccines.

    Depending on your income, you will probably pay for your immunizations. I’m in FL now, and there is a charge here, too. Various employers DO offer the vaccines at no charge.

    It would be interesting to see a compilation of state Depts. of Health listing the fees charged (or not) for influenza/pneumoccal vaccines.

  17. #17 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 30, 2008

    post being held about MS….

  18. #18 jen_m
    January 30, 2008

    Revere, I think maybe anon is thinking of the Superbowl as being like the Hajj pilgrimage in terms of migratory exchange. Which it’s not – per the Arizona Superbowl site, “During Super Bowl XLII, University of Phoenix Stadium is projected to seat 73,000 people. Past host cities and the NFL estimate that an additional 50,000 non-game ticket holders visit Super Bowl cities each year to be a part of the festivities.” Sure, that’s a lot of out-of-towners, but the Hajj draws 1-2 million Muslims to Mecca every December and still has had only a few outbreaks, all of which were of meningococcal meningitis rather than influenza despite the time of year.

  19. #19 revere
    January 30, 2008

    Jen: I knew that’s what he was asking. anon has been around the blog for several years so I am used to his thought processes. Sometimes I just say I’m used to it a little differently.

  20. #20 Levygoddess
    January 30, 2008

    Kruger, this is interesting information about MS…is this Federal laws that are changing or just MS? I agree with everything your saying…we have people in Ar that just refuse to work because that way they will qualify for all of these services! I keep saying one day they are going to kick these people off their lazy butts and make them work…I cant wait. A State Rep and I have been discussing ways to help the people that are really trying but only making minimum wage etc…but these people that work 5 hours a week just so they can say they are employed,? oooohh it gets my blood boiling

  21. #21 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 30, 2008

    Assisted by income Levy. The Katrina gig got the state moving on what is “poor” because of all off the government gimme’s. Those programs while well intentioned lay the groundwork for socialism first and communism second. Why should I work kind of scenario.

    There is no way for a socialist society to exist or a capitalistic one if its introduced. We are slowly, surely sinking into the abyss of socialism. Its not UHC. It is Social Security, its Medicare, Medicaid, aid to dependent children and hundreds of programs that are nothing more than the ability to steal.

    As for the laws Levy, yes it is. You turn up a drug screen positive and you are on welfare you are off of it. If you can afford drugs, you can afford to pay for your own butt and not someone else paying for you. You turn a drug screen and the kids go out the door likely never to be seen again. You turn a drug screen and you get pregnant the second time around you likely will have it taken away from you. And you dont get any food stamps beyond what the federal level is mandated. No state assistance.

  22. #22 bc
    January 30, 2008

    Do you know what flu vaccine costs?

    Do you know what it costs to administer it?

    $25 is a bargain! Most flu shot sites in AZ charge about $30 according to web site at http://www.cir.org/seasonal-flu.html

    The vaccine being used for these free clinics is surplus donated by providers faced with an overabundance of flu vaccine, according to the Maricopa County web site. This year providers like Cigna and HealthLogic donated the vaccine.

    Underfunded health departments have the choice of giving flu shots for less than their costs, but then having no ability to pay staff to give it (leading to layoffs or cuts in other important public health programs) or trying to recover their costs, but not turning away anyone with inability to pay.

    Flu shots in our state run $25 to $36 for adults and $14.74 for kids (the federal cap for VFC), but no one is refused who can’t afford it, and we give it free to the homeless who come to us for TB tests required to stay long-term in the shelters.

    Where state legislatures and taxpayers are more generous, public health departments can eat thousands of dollars for purchasing flu shots and administering them. In poorly funded health departments, that may not be possible.

    By the end of January, however, anyone who has flu vaccine left realizes they probably won’t be able to get rid of it, and start donating it or offering it at reduced cost or free if they can find someone to administer it.

  23. #23 anon
    January 31, 2008

    I remember these American “sitcoms” where people are sitting
    at their TVs with friends watching superbowl.
    I was also thinking about Carneval, which is a big event in some countries.
    Enough data should be available to examine a connection with flu-peaks.

  24. #24 Rich
    January 31, 2008

    randy must be getting his info from wingnut websites or the like. MS regularly ranks at the bottom of ststes for welfare payments and food stamps, and is low even when you consider the cost of living.

    Ed Thompson did a stint with CDC under Julie Gerberding. He had responsibility for working with the states. I wondered what happened to him. He was with MS before he went to Atlanta and he was one of several people who bottled up the State’s guidelines for HIV treatment, which is to say he helped the state lag years behind other states in providing adequate post-HAART care.

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