Virgin Islands Department of Health Offers Free Flu Shots

Grant Boone
November 22, 2019

Looking beyond what insurers paid for flu vaccines, KHN discovered that the costs covered the entire range of $ 25 to $ 85.

A key reason people choose not to get the flu vaccine is they perceive it doesn't work, Jernigan said, although studies have found it is usually 40% to 60% effective.

Vaccination rates, however, have risen for children - increasing to 73% past year from 64% in 2011.

The high-dose vaccine, which was first available a year ago, is considered more protective for people over the age of 65 who are at high risk of complications from influenza. The first human testing began on a small scale this year at the National Institutes of Health.

The wide discrepancy in what insurers pay for the same flu shot illustrates what's wrong with America's health system, said Glenn Melnick, a health economist at the University of Southern California.

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"The patient is immune from the cost, but they are the losers because eventually they pay a higher premium", said Ge Bai, an accounting and health policy professor at Johns Hopkins University's campus in Washington, D.C.

People with flu often have high fever and muscle aches that make even the healthiest individuals feel exhausted for up to a week. "The system is not working to provide efficient care, and the flu shot is one example of how these problems persist".

Hanley didn't have an answer for why, exactly, there's a higher demand this year, but he said an increase in population, promotional efforts, and the typical increased interest in the vaccine when there's an earlier flu season may have contributed. "I don't think the incremental reduction of the estimated chance for me to get flu is worth my time to get the shot". In the United States, such prices accumulate quickly as tens of millions of people receive a flu vaccine every year.

The Virgin Islands Department of Health is offering residents free flu vaccinations in the upcoming flu season by hosting and collaborating in two clinic outreach events this Friday. The flu shot may also decrease the duration and severity of flu symptoms if a person does contract the flu.

This article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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