Flu vaccine supplies are limited

Published on Wed, Jan 16, 2013 by Brandy Kiger

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If you’ve waited until now to get a flu shot, you may want to hurry to the pharmacy as soon as you can. Supplies are running low and many pharmacies and doctor’s offices in the area are completely out of stock. 

“We’ve given more [flu shots] this year than we ever have,” said  Shannon Smith LPN at Bay Medical. “I think people are becoming more aware that it is wise to get a shot, and our doctors are recommending it to all our patients.” 

Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), it can cause mild to severe illness and in some cases, lead to death. The virus is at an elevated level and 47 states have reported widespread activity in the past week. The Fraser Health region just across the border has been hit so hard that officials have declared it a health hazard and they are invoking special measures to fight it. 

Smith said it is important to get a flu shot because it not only helps protect you from the flu, but also helps keep it from spreading. “There are some age groups that can’t handle the flu,” she said, such as children and the elderly. “They can’t fight it off and it can turn into things like pneumonia.”

She reminded the community that there is no danger of contaracting the flu by getting the shot, since it is not a live virus, but there may be side effects as with any medication. 

While state-supplied flu shots are available for children at Bay Medical, they have exhausted their supply of flu shots for adults and will not be receiving any more from their supplier. She recommends visiting a pharmacy to receive a dosage of the vaccine. 

RiteAid in Blaine seems to be in the same situation as Bay Medical with vaccines flying off the shelf as soon as they come in the door. 

“We got a small shipment in a few days ago,” pharmacist Ben Li said. “But we went through it fast. I’ve been calling around to other pharmacies to see if they have any for customers, but I’m pretty sure almost everyone is out.”

Li said that RiteAid began administering flu shots in August and have given more than 600 doses. “It’s been publicized a lot more this year,” Li said.

While RiteAid in Blaine may be out of the vaccine the RiteAid in Ferndale was expecting a shipment in the next few days, and the Walgreens in Ferndale said that they have the vaccine on hand.

For more information about the flu and the vaccine, please visit flu.gov or see your physician or local pharmacist.