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Flu Shots Available Across Iowa

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Health experts in Iowa said there are plenty of flu shots available in the state this season and it's causing competition to rise between local pharmacies.

"We're stunned at seeing the competition from our local pharmacies," said Suellen Novotny, executive director of the Visiting Nurse Association of Johnson County.

Novotny's group uses money made from their flu shot clinic to serve Medicaid patients and uninsured people, she told The Gazette newspaper in Cedar Rapids.

"There's a profit to be had and it brings in people to shop," she said.

Deb Janechek, the nurse association's senior coordinator in Linn County, said she doesn't expect the large crowds that typically turn out when there's a shortage of the flu vaccine. She said stores have a financial incentive to offer flu shots.

"It's getting to be a business like everything else," she said.

Dr. Patricia Winokur, an associate dean at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, said pharmacies started selling flu shots earlier this season because the vaccinations have been available.

"This is a very plentiful year," Winokur said. "They can get the shot anywhere."

Last year there were long lines at pharmacies because of a shortage of both the seasonal flu shot and the swine flu vaccination. This year the two are together in one shot. Winokur predicts fewer cases of flu this year because she said those who had swine flu last year will still have some immunity.

Iowa had 41 deaths and 659 hospitalizations from the swine flu in 2009.