JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With the surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and the upcoming flu season looming, there’s a renewed push to keep flu patients out of the hospital. Doctors say, yes, it’s possible to get the flu even if you’ve been vaccinated against it. However, those who are vaccinated are less likely to come down with a severe case that requires hospitalization.
For the second year, News4JAX is partnering with the Duval County Medical Society for #FluVaxJax -- a community-wide campaign to get people vaccinated against influenza.
The campaign first launched on Sept. 9, 2020 in the hopes of minimizing the impact on our local hospitals due to flu. Well, #FluVaxJax reached its goal of getting at least 48% of adults vaccinated against the flu in Clay, Duval, Nassau, and St. Johns Counties. In an average year, the First Coast has about a 36.9% adult vaccination rate.
The percent of emergency/urgent care visits for influenza is usually around 4% in mid-February for Northeast Florida. Last February, it was less than 1%. The campaign credits you and its partners for spreading the word and encouraging vaccinations -- which allowed hospital staff to focus on patients with COVID-19 and other illnesses.
Getting a vaccine
Getting a flu vaccine is easy. By law, flu and other vaccines are required to be covered by your health insurance without charging a copayment or coinsurance. But, be sure to check with your insurance company to find out if you must go to a specific facility to receive the vaccine. Some insurance plans only cover vaccines given by your doctor or at a limited set of locations.
Local pharmacies can administer vaccinations for ages 3+ at most locations:
Free flu vaccines for the uninsured:
If you do not have insurance, you can go online at FluVaxJax.com and request a voucher for a free vaccine.
Also, Florida Blue will be offering free flu shot clinics again this year at two locations: Florida Blue Town Center (4855 Town Center Parkway, Jacksonville) and Florida Blue-Winston YMCA (221 Riverside Avenue, Jacksonville).
The free flu clinics will be at both locations listed above from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on the following dates in 2021:
- September 22, 29
- October 16, 27
- November 3, 13
News4JAX has also learned Duval County Public Schools will be offering in-school flu vaccines in all public schools in partnership with Health Hero Florida. We’re told Clay County District Schools is hoping to offer flu shots to students as well. We will update this story as those details are finalized.
Morning Show interview: Dr. Sunil Joshi explains difference between COVID-19 and the flu
Everything you need to know
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu vaccine for those six months of age and older. And the good news: you can get vaccinated against COVID and the flu at the same time.
“When we were first rolling out the COVID-19 vaccines we were telling people to give two weeks between other vaccines and the COVID shot. Now we no longer are saying that,” explained Dr. Sunil Joshi, President of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation. “We believe that you can receive the flu shot the same day you receive your COVID-19 vaccine or booster -- especially since a lot of people are now getting the booster for the COVID-19 vaccine. And this is a way to make it more convenient for you to be able to get both vaccines at the same time so there’s no reason to space them by two weeks like we were saying earlier.”
Below is a recap of some of the coverage News4JAX has previously done on the flu vaccine:
- Why some kids need 2 doses of the flu vaccine — Protecting your children from the flu. Certain age groups need two doses of the vaccine for them to be fully effective. We break it down for parents step by step.
- Flu mist vs. flu shot? — Duval County’s Health Department director says either is a good option this year. She explains the differences between the two vaccines, and who should be receiving which version of the vaccine and who should not.
- High-dose flu vaccine can protect those 65 and older — Flu answers for the senior population. We talk about protecting our parents, grandparents and elderly loved ones from both COVID-19 and influenza this flu season.
- Trust Index: What’s true about the flu vaccine & what’s not — We put flu vaccine myths to the test using our Trust Index to help you and your loved navigate the differences between what’s true and which claims aren’t.
- Telling flu and COVID-19 apart — These two viruses share some common ground as symptoms go. But there are two symptoms that can help you tell them apart.
- What pregnant women should know about the flu vaccine — Lauren Verno interviews a Mayo Clinic doctor about what pregnant women need to know about the flu and the flu shot.
What questions do you have about flu season and the flu vaccine?