Voting in this year's presidential election could be a real shot in the arm.
At four polling sites during advance voting week, Oct. 27-31, those casting ballots in Columbus can get a vaccine to protect them through the flu season.
The flu shot costs $23, which can be paid through cash, check, Medicare, a Medicare supplement or Medicaid, said Pam Fair of the Columbus health department.
This "Vote & Vax" program is aimed primarily at older folks, who are among those most at risk of being severely affected by a flu infection. They also tend to be the most faithful voters, rarely missing a presidential election. So this initiative offers them the chance to get a flu shot when they go to vote — if they vote early.
The federal Centers for Disease Control recommends people age 50 or older get an annual flu vaccination, and estimates 70 percent of the 125 million Americans who vote in national elections are in that age range. Older people and those with chronic health problems account for most of the 36,000 deaths from flu each year.
But Vote & Vax doesn't mean nurses with needles will be walking down the line of voters and jabbing them on the way to the touch-screen voting machine. The clinic will be in a separate area at each poll.
To get the shot, voters need an ID (which they'll also need for voting) and their Medicare or Medicaid card, if they are using that method of payment.
Here's the schedule for Vote & Vax in Columbus:
— 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Oct. 27 at Columbus State University's Cunningham Center, 3100 Gentian Boulevard.
— 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Frank D. Chester Recreation Center, 1441 Benning Drive.
— 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Road.
— 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Columbus Government Center Elections Office in the west wing at 100 10th St.