State offers free flu shots to all Mainers

Posted Jan. 09, 2014, at 11:08 a.m.

The Maine Immunization Program is offering the flu vaccine free to all Mainers.

The vaccine — both in a shot and a nasal spray — is available through participating doctors’ offices.

“We have vaccine available that hasn’t been utilized and instead of, basically, letting it go to waste, we want to make sure that everybody has the opportunity, in the event that they need it,” said Tonya Philbrick, director of the Maine Immunization Program.

The program typically gives the flu vaccine to particular groups of people, including children, the uninsured, pregnant women and their partners, and nursing home employees and residents. For at least the past couple of flu seasons, the program has expanded to include all people in Maine.

Patients should ask their doctors whether they participate in the Maine Immunization Program. Doctors who don’t can still sign up and receive the free flu vaccine.

Although the vaccine is free, doctors may still charge an administration fee of up to $21.58. However, patients cannot be denied the flu shot because they can’t afford the fee.

Doctors may also charge for an office visit, but Philbrick said many doctors’ offices allow nurses to give the shots and do not charge for office visits.

People without doctors may be able to get a flu shot through public clinics, Philbrick said.

Although flu shots are available through pharmacies, the free vaccine is not.

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