Nearly 600 children and adults in Snohomish County will be able to get free flu shots this year by picking up vouchers at one of six area food banks.
The vouchers are part of an effort by Food Lifeline, which distributes food to feeding programs throughout Western Washington, to get 4,000 low-income people immunized for the upcoming flu season.
In Snohomish County, the vouchers will be available at food banks in Snohomish, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Marysville, The Hands of Hope food bank in Everett and the Concern for Neighbors food bank in Mountlake Terrace. The vouchers will be given to families and adults currently using these food banks.
This is the first time that Seattle-based Food Lifeline has offered the flu vouchers to area food banks and feeding programs, said Ashley Gammell, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit.
It came about through collaboration with Walgreens, which promised to donate 200,000 free flu shots nationally to five charities.
“It wasn’t an opportunity that we solicited but … we see a real natural overlap in providing emergency food and other emergency services,” Gammell said.
Children and adults can get a free flu shot by presenting the voucher at area Walgreens drug stores, she said.
The Marysville Community Food Bank expects to get about 100 of the vouchers, said Dell Deierling, food bank director.
The Lynnwood Food Bank has been promised 25 vouchers, expected to arrive next week, said Judy Fin, director.
Some 100 of the flu shot vouchers are expected to arrive at the Snohomish Community Food Bank, said Elizabeth Grant, director.
Grant said that the food bank in the past has received vouchers for flu shots, also from Snohomish County. “I had a lot of clients that took advantage of it,” she said.
But the program stopped last year due to budget cuts, Grant said.
“I’ll bet once I post a sign saying we have vouchers for free flu shots my stack goes pretty quickly,” Grant said.
Anne Peterson at the Concern for Neighbors Food Bank in Mountlake Terrace said her only concern with the 170 vouchers she’ll be receiving is how to divvy them up.
“I’m just trying to figure out how I can spread them to 300 to 400 people,” she said. “Maybe one per family, first come, first served.”
Public health officials recommend flu immunizations for everyone age six months and up. The shot takes about two weeks to become fully effective.
In Washington, flu season typically begins in January, but its arrival can be unpredictable, said Michele Roberts, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health’s immunization program.
“Now is the perfect time to get protected,” she said.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Who’s got vouchers
Food banks participating in the flu-shot voucher program:
Marysville Community Food Bank
4150 88th St. NE, 360-658-1054
Lynnwood Food Bank
5320 176th St. SW (behind Silver Creek Family Church), 425-745-1635
Snohomish Community Food Bank
1330 Ferguson Park Road, 360-568-7993
Edmonds Food Bank
Edmonds United Methodist Church, 828 Caspers St., 425-778-2119
Hands of Hope
9506 71st Ave. SE, Everett, 425-387-2149 (not accepting new clients)
Concern for Neighbors Food Bank
4700 228th St. SW, Mountlake Terrace, 425-778-7227