Flu Flies In, Vaccine Runs Out

Jeremy Aldrich -- October 14th, 2009

As flu spreads in the area, many seeking or expecting seasonal flu vaccinations are hearing disappointing news: according to WHSV, most area doctors are out of stock and aren’t expected to have more until December.  The CDC says that although there are six manufacturers working to produce the seasonal flu vaccine for the US market, it has been common in the last few years for demand to exceed supply early in the flu season.  

Normally, the flu season peaks later in the winter, meaning even a December vaccination would be useful.  The Virginia Department of Health indicates that influenza-like illness was already as severe at the end of last week as it was during the peak of the 2008-2009 flu season.  Our health district (Central Shenandoah) had one of the highest rates in the state of emergency room visits due to influenza-like illness last week.

The separate H1N1 vaccine is expected in Virginia in late October/early November.

38 Responses to “Flu Flies In, Vaccine Runs Out”

  1. Emmy says:

    I get the flu shot every year but this was the first time my doctor asked me if I fell into a risk group before giving it to me. As a parent I fall into a risk group so he did give it to me. The nurse told me that the lab they get their shots from had stopped production to make the H1N1 vaccine. My kids get the flu mist and there’s rarely a shortage of that, but not everyone is able to get that either.

    I hope the H1N1 vaccine won’t be hard to get once it’s here.

  2. Emmy says:

    Oh and Wal-Mart had big signs everywhere saying that they had the flu shot available when I was in there this evening. I don’t believe they give the shot to children, but if adults are looking for it they might try local pharmacies.

  3. Greg says:

    It doesn’t really matter. In the southern hemisphere, where their flu season was 6 months ago, H1N1 was 99% of all flu cases, and only 1 percent were seasonal flu. So far, it’s looking like it will be the same here in the US this winter. So if you really want to get a flu shot, get the H1N1 and skip the seasonal one since your chances of coming across the seasonal bug in the wild are pretty low.

  4. Emmy says:

    “Her reaction is one in a million, doctors said.”

    No Dave, you don’t necessarily get that, but at least we know your dose is available for someone else.

  5. I meant that you get this story, not the flu.

  6. I would have gotten a flu shot by now if I could have. I use hand sanitizer pretty regularly, and spend most of my day in an office by myself (no shared keyboard) yet I left work early yesterday feeling lousy.

    By last night, I had a fever of 101.1, and decided to be on the safe side, went to the ER to see if I had H1N1. They made me put on a mask and quarantined me in a separate waiting room. You really feel like a freak walking around the hospital with one of those masks you generally only see doctors and people in crowded Asian cities wear. People definitely step to the other side of the hall.

    Long story short, they didn’t test me for the flu. My doctor — who was both Asian and a doctor, so he definitely had a mask on — said that the “swab test,” where they stick a Q-tip on a wire, shove it up your nose into your throat, has a wide margin of error. They’re basically prescribing Tamiflu for everyone showing flu-like symptoms.

    Can’t really say that I wanted them to shove something into my nose and down my throat, but I would like to know if I have H1N1. Perhaps if I had better insurance, I would have asked for blood tests. But I’m self-insured, and my shitty Anthem plan only covered $20 of the Tamiflu, leaving me to pay over $80. Who knows what the visit itself will cost. Perhaps Anthem will only pay $20 of that, as well.

    I’m feeling much better today, but staying in the house to be safe. Tylenol extra strength and Tamiflu seem to be working.

  7. Emmy says:

    The Tamiflu should take care of it quickly. From what I understand most doctors aren’t running the test for H1N1 anywhere for the reasons he stated.

    I hear you on the insurance issue. Mine totally sucks too, but I don’t blame you for going and I suppose if I end up with something I’ll suck it up and go.

    I’m very anxious for the H1N1 vaccine to get here. My youngest son has respiratory issues and I’m afraid he’ll get it before he gets the vaccine. We’re lucky though and have a nebulizer so if he does get it we won’t have to go to the ER right away.

  8. Renee says:

    Brent – That sucks about the flu and the insurance (I can definitely relate on the latter!). I’m glad you got medicated, but it would have been nice for them to find out if you had H1N1 for your own peace of mind and for the sake of collecting data about the spread of it.

    Get well soon!

  9. My doctor’s office does not have it. I heard pharmacies might, but mine does not. I am a prof a JMU (and old) and stopped by the JMU health clinic. Nope, although I shall pass on that supposedly on Oct. 23 there will be a mass inoculation with 50 (count them) nurses for JMU-connected folks at the Convo Center. However, I shall be out of town then (again).

    Oh, one of my facebook friends in town bragged about getting some yesterday and was whining about a stuffy nose. I asked, “where did you get it?” No reply so far.

  10. Greg says:

    Barkley, it’s not a big secret about which locations will have the H1N1 vaccine. This page has a listing of every site in the state that will have them once their delivered and ready to be administered to the general public in a few weeks:

    http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/DiseasePrevention/H1N1/VaccinationSites.htm

    As you can see, not many doctor’s offices in the area will have it, but pharmacies and a few clinics will.

  11. Dave Briggman says:

    Brent, I have to tell you…your paragraphs, above, are about the “whiniest” paragraphs I’ve ever seen written about someone having a relatively low-grade fever…whimp would probably be more accurate.

    You should have just taken some Tylenol, or Motrin, and just laid down and watched a movie.

  12. BANDIT says:

    Brent, I hope you are feeling better, it’s no fun being sick.
    Briggman, did someone pee in your Wheaties this morning?

  13. VDH updated their data for last week.

  14. Greg says:

    That’s an interesting graph Jeremy. I didn’t realize there was such a big spike in H1N1 back in June. And according to the latest news, the vaccines are now looking to be delayed several more weeks, with the general public not being allowed to get their shots until early December.

  15. Briggman, thanks for sharing with me what you think of what I wrote. I have a lot of respect for you, and it’s really important to me what you think of me.

  16. Emmy says:

    I hope they aren’t delayed. From what I’ve been hearing the early wave was not the one they were worried about, it’s this wave that will impact the most people and be the most deadly.

  17. [Portion of comment removed by Jeremy: All we ask is that you address others the way you’d like to be addressed. No anonymous, libelous, or name-calling comments.]

    Insurance costs are so high because people like you, with a relatively low grade fever, have the first impulse to run to the hospital.

  18. BANDIT says:

    [Comment removed: All we ask is that you address others the way you’d like to be addressed. No anonymous, libelous, or name-calling comments.]

  19. Please stick to the topic. And don’t feed the trolls.

  20. I finally heard back from facebook friend. It was a regular seasonal flu shot, not H1N1, and it was gotten at Costco.

  21. [Comment removed by Jeremy A: All we ask is that you address others the way you’d like to be addressed. No anonymous, libelous, or name-calling comments.]

  22. Dave Briggman says:

    Why is it liberals are primarily the only people censoring local blogs around here? Scary we have people like you, Jeremy, “educating” local children…

  23. BANDIT says:

    [Comment removed: All we ask is that you address others the way you’d like to be addressed. No anonymous, libelous, or name-calling comments.]

  24. Dave Briggman says:

    [Comment removed: All we ask is that you address others the way you’d like to be addressed. No anonymous, libelous, or name-calling comments.]

  25. Dave Briggman says:

    [Comment removed: All we ask is that you address others the way you’d like to be addressed. No anonymous, libelous, or name-calling comments.]

  26. I’m sorry, Benny, I should have been more magnanimous.

    If you’re so concerned with my job status, perhaps you’d tell me how that affects you, and I might consider modifying my status to become more in accordance with your desire.

  27. Emmy says:

    Dave, this has nothing to do with Jeremy. You violated (and continue to violate) the rules stated right above the comment box on this blog. It just happens that Jeremy was the person to edit it. It has nothing to do with being a liberal and everything to do with being able to have a reasonable discussion on this board. If you were able to do that without name calling, then you wouldn’t be censored.

    Whatever issue you have with this particular commenter needs to be taken care of off of this board.

  28. seth says:

    hard to tell exactly what’s been said, but in speaking w/ my mom (who in the interest of (this time) meaningful full disclosure, is a nurse @ jmu student health), i found that health professionals seem to be saying that it would be better if those of us who aren’t severely ill try to wait it out a couple days so that the limited available resources can go to those who are really sick.

    also, i think rmh’s flu clinic @ corporate health might be up and running now:
    http://www.whsv.com/home/headlines/59343447.html

    did anyone else hear this week’s ‘this american life?’ it’s all about health care and brings a number of interesting perspectives to bear.

  29. Jen says:

    I think most healthy people are better off getting sick, getting better and having a natural immunity. Although this is not practical for all people (esp. those with compromised immune systems) it would give us a healthier population.
    The pharm companies try to sell the idea of everyone getting flu shots and h1n1 shots to boost their profits.
    http://abcnews.go.com/Business/big-business-swine-flu/story?id=8820642

  30. Seth,

    “a couple of days” Really? Can anybody go to the mass inoculation on Oct. 23 in the Convo Center or only JMU-connected people? If not, just where is it that people will be able to get it in “a couple of days,” even those who are supposed to be the highest priority with damaged immune systems, please?

  31. Barnabas says:

    I have a pretty good immune system but my wife and children tend to be a little sickly. I have had a couple of friends who have gotten and gotten over H1N1. As a personal recomendation I would say other that living a less social lifestyle and eating more homemade foods is one way to avoid flu germs. The management at work bought Purell bottles for everyones desks and has larger bottles mounted on the wall near the bathrooms. Yeah so, flu shots I had one last year and I didn’t get the flu. I But then i didn’t have the shot the previous three years and didn’t get it then either.

  32. seth says:

    barkley,
    that’s my understanding. i’ll check again. i’m not positive, but i think that the thing at the convo is just for jmu. for those who feel like they need it stat, my girlfriend told me she got one at emergicare yesterday (not completely sure if it was the h1n1 or seasonal flu shot though).

  33. Emmy says:

    My children received permission forms today to get the H1N1 vaccine. They will be given it next Friday at school. I guess it’s coming earlier than expected.

  34. Brooke says:

    That’s weird – on the news tonight (national, not local) they were saying that there is a shortage of vaccines, and only those at high risk should get it, and that the best thing would be for people to just keep their kids home from school if they’re exhibiting symptoms of the flu, and that the schools should institute policies where they automatically quarantine any kid who looks sick and send them home. I wonder if the schools who are giving the vaccine already have their shipment?

  35. Emmy says:

    I know, I heard something similar this morning. From the report I heard I thought they wouldn’t get them until late November. But the sheet says next Friday, so we’ll see.

  36. Emmy says:

    Well it was too good to be true. They sent a note home today saying that the health department did not get their shipment as planned and they will be given as soon as they arrive. The kids were told it would be the shot and not the mist.

  37. eso says:

    RMH center for corporate health in the Kroger Shopping center has had the swine flu vaccine this week.
    The flu clinic hours are 10A-4P and the phone number is (540) 564-5622. Probably want to call first, don’t know how much they have.

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