Advance voters offered flu shots

COVINGTON - The Newton County Health Department will offer flu vaccinations for early voters from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The health department will set up a booth in the hallway of the Newton County Administration Building, near the Board of Elections Office, where voting is taking place.

It's all part of a push to get people, particularly residents age 50 and older, vaccinated as early as possible this year, Health Department Spokesman Vernon Goins said.

Thousands of health clinics across the country are participating in a program called Vote & Vax to launch flu shot clinics at or near polling places on Election Day. Though the Newton County Health Department missed the deadline to sign up for the program, "We decided we would participate indirectly by offering early voter vaccinations," Goins said. "The cost is down this year. The number of people available for vaccinations is increased due to the draw of this particular election. It seemed like the perfect storm for flu vaccinations. Everything seemed to be ideal."

Anyone can walk in to be vaccinated, even if they are not voting that day, Goins said. Children's vaccinations likely won't be available, but are done on a walk-in basis at the Newton County Health Center, he said.

Nasal mist vaccines will be available for $25, and injection vaccines will be offered for $20.

The Newton County Administration Building is located at 1113 Usher St. N.E. in Covington.

The Newton County Health Center also has vaccines available on a walk-in basis from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The Health Center is located at 8203 Hazelbrand Road in Covington.

The vaccination supply is holding up well so far this season, Goins said.

"Because of the history of the last few years of vaccinations in the country, the producers of vaccinations are routing 143 million doses to the U.S., a record amount," he said. "A lot of vaccinations are available at a cheaper cost."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is predicting a rough flu season this year, Goins added.

He urged the public to remember this slogan: "If you really love them, you'll have them shot."

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.