It’s time to get your annual flu vaccine

#FluVaxJax campaign offering vouchers so the uninsured can get a free shot

Flu vaccination (Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Veronica McNabb)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The #FluVaxJax campaign has officially launched! It’s the third year News4JAX has partnered with the Duval County Medical Society Foundation for this community-wide initiative. The goal is to get as many people vaccinated and protected against the flu as possible.

In an average year, the First Coast has about a 36.9% adult vaccination rate.

Doctors say, yes, it’s possible to get the flu even if you’ve gotten the vaccine, however, those who are vaccinated are less likely to come down with a severe case that requires hospitalization.

Dr. Sunil Joshi, president of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation, visited The Morning Show on Wednesday to help kick off the campaign and busted some myths about the vaccine. (Press play below to watch his interview)

Dr. Sunil Joshi, president of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation, joins us to discuss how to request vouchers for free flu shots, and reasons why patients say they won't get the flu vaccine.

For people who say they get the flu from getting the vaccine, Joshi said that’s simply not true.

“It is impossible,” he said. “The flu shot does not have the virus in it. The reason you feel sick after the flu shot is because your system is developing these antibodies.”

He said for people who don’t feel well after the vaccine, those symptoms don’t typically last more than 24 hours.

“This is the best time of the year to get the flu shot -- September and October,” Joshi said. “It takes about seven to 14 days to develop these antibodies. We start to peak with the flu in December, January and February here in Northeast Florida, but that doesn’t mean we don’t see the flu in October and November.”

Clay, Duval, Nassau, and St. Johns counties participate in the #FluVaxJaxcampaign, which helps spread the word that if you have health insurance, the flu vaccine is covered 100%.

By law, flu and other vaccines are required to be covered by your health insurance without charging a copayment or coinsurance -- just be sure to check with your insurer to find out if you need to go to a specific facility to get your vaccine.

And if you are uninsured, you can request a voucher from the #FluVaxJax campaign for a FREE shot.

“Cost should not be a barrier for you to get a flu vaccine,” Joshi said.

Donors help cover the cost of the shots, which can range from $30-$55, and the #FluVaxJax campaign has distributed nearly 3,000 no-cost flu vaccine vouchers since the initiative began. If you want to help, you can learn more here:

Local pharmacies can administer vaccinations for ages 3+ at most locations: