JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The FluVaxJax campaign started at the end of August as a way to promote adults in Northeast Florida to get their flu shot in order to keep hospitalizations down. On average, typically only 36.9 percent of adults in Northeast Florida get their flu shot every flu season.
As of right now, 46 percent of adults have gotten their flu shot.
Dr. Sunil Joshi, the President of the Duval County Medial Society Foundation, said that they are less than ten-thousand people away from reaching their goal of 48 percent. He says that he thinks they will reach their goal by the end of the month.
“So it’s not too late to get the flu shot, you’ll develop antibodies within seven to 10 days, and I still strongly recommend that through the flu season,” Joshi said.
The flu season in Jacksonville typically starts in late October and will end in early March. However in other areas in the country, the flu season ends in April. According to the CDC, flu hospitalization rates this season are lower than usual. There were a total of 129 confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations between October 1, 2020, and January 9, 2021 in the United States. The CDC states that this number is lower than average for this point in the season. Joshi says that while he does think getting the flu shot is extremely helpful, it’s most likely the COVID-19 guidelines keeping hospitalizations down.
“But what’s probably playing much, much more of a role is the fact that we are wearing masks and we’re staying socially distant. We’re not, you know, going to huge concerts or football games or basketball games. We’re not all congregating like we’d normally do during the fall and winter months. And so I think that has a lot to do with why the flu numbers are dropping, why people are not being hospitalized for the flu as much as they typically are, along with the fact that people are much more excited about getting the flu vaccine this year,” Joshi said.
The FluVaxJax campaign, as part of making sure adults get vaccinated, are giving out free flu shot vouchers on their website to anyone who does not have health insurance.
“So we have had over 1200 hundred people ask for vouchers this flu vaccine season, which which is tremendous. And we’re still encouraging people to go through the website to to apply for a free flu vaccine voucher if you don’t have insurance. Remember, people who are insured, the flu vaccine is covered 100 percent,” Joshi said. “If you don’t have insurance, it depends on where you go to get it, but it can be anywhere between 35 to 55 dollars. And if you’re vaccinating a family of four, it starts to become a very, very pricey so. So we do encourage people to go to the the website to get free flu vaccine voucher.”
Joshi did note that they are already planning on expanding this program into the next flu season, but it most likely won’t look the same as this year.
“So we do anticipate that we’ll still be pushing and promoting the effectiveness and safety of the flu vaccine next year. We may not have a weekly tracker like we’re having this year. We may not have a goal vaccination number like we have this year. Those are kind of things that we’ll have to discuss as we go forward. But we certainly will still be having the free flu vaccine voucher as part of our flu vaccine campaign next year so that we can make sure that we can get the uninsured vaccinated as well,” Joshi said.
For more information on the FluVaxJax Campaign, click here.