Image of the newly identified H1N1 influenza virus, taken in the CDC Influenza Laboratory.
Image of the H1N1 influenza virus, taken in the CDC Influenza Laboratory. Image source: CDC Influenza Laboratory

By Rose Hoban

Thousands of people are likely on track to get their flu shots at this year’s N.C. State Fair, which runs through this Sunday.

Last weekend, more than 700 people got their arms jabbed with this year’s flu formulation, said Jenna Huggins from Mutual Drug, who is coordinating two tents at the fair, one near the Village of Yesteryear exhibit and the other near Dorton Arena.

Raleigh real estate appraiser Steve Kubera said you can’t beat the state fair for convenience when it comes to getting his annual flu shot. Photo credit: Rose Hoban

Mutual is a wholesale drug company that supplies hundreds of independent pharmacies in Virginia and North and South Carolina. The company took over the service from Walgreen’s and Kerr Drug, which had offered shots in the past.

Huggins said that by mid-afternoon Monday, about a hundred people had gotten shots, guided through the 10-minute process with the help of students from Campbell University’s pharmacy program.

“They’re all able to give vaccinations, as well as talk to the patients,” Huggins said. “They love talking to patients.”

“You can’t beat it for the convenience,” said Steve Kubera, a real estate appraiser from Raleigh. He said he gets his shot annually because he’s in and out of a lot of houses. “If i don’t work, I don’t get paid, so I’d rather not take chances with the flu.”

Mutual enlisted small independent pharmacists from all over the state to run the tents at the fair, because the distribution company isn’t authorized to do the actual immunizations. Pharmacists from Raleigh, the Charlotte area, Siler City and Lincolnton have already pulled shifts there.

Joyce Liverman, a pharmacist from Drugco Discount Pharmacy in Roanoke Rapids, was running the tent near the Village of Yesteryear on Monday. She said it was the first year her organization was involved in the state fair flu shots, and it wouldn’t be the last.

Pharmacists have been allowed to give flu shots in North Carolina for years. But they’ve been permitted to give an expanded range of shots since the N.C. General Assembly changed the law in 2013. Liverman said now that pharmacists are allowed to give more shots, more folks are getting them.

Practicing what you preach: Reporter Rose Hoban gets her annual jab. Photo credit: Jenna Huggins

“It’s a lot easier than waiting to get an appointment, going to sit in the doctors office and waiting,” Liverman said. “It’s very convenient.”

She said it costs about $25 for the flu shot and that most insurance plans cover pharmacists giving the shots.

Greensboro resident Gail Coleman said that a couple of years ago one of the pharmacists from the tent at the fair helped her set up getting a shingles shot back in her hometown.

“I get my flu shot at the fair every year,” she said.

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