As flu season continues, demand for vaccines has mellowed as more cases present themselves, but that’s more or less what one would expect to happen.
Infection control specialists at Mercy Hospital in Ardmore have reported a dramatic increase in the number of positive influenza tests in the past two weeks. The first reported case was in August 2017.
Carter County Health Department coordinating nurse Amber Marr said the department is still well-stocked on flu vaccines, but the demand has slowed as the season has progressed. The department spent the last few months holding vaccination events where people could quickly drop in to receive a vaccine. Marr said at the last event, only about 50 people came through.
“We always recommend that you get a flu shot,” Marr said. “All of the health departments have it, and in fact, we could order more from the state if we needed to.”
Marr said unless the makeup of the vaccine changes in response to a change in the virus, there’s no need to get more than one flu vaccination. She said the health department did issue a second round of vaccines in response to an outbreak of H1N1, or swine flu, in the past.
Local pharmacies have also seen demand for the vaccine slow. Pharmacist Paul Reed, with Reed Family Pharmacy, said they’re also well-stocked.
“We’ve had a small number of people,” Reed said. “The majority of our customers got their vaccines in September and October.”
Reed said early fall is the traditional time to get vaccinated against the flu.
“The crazy part is now if a family member has the flu, they’ve probably already been exposed,” Reed said. “It takes about two weeks to build up resistance and four to reach maximum effectiveness.”
He said it’s always worthwhile to get a flu shot, but waiting means risking exposure to the virus.
“It’s not too late, but we are definitely in the middle of it,” Reed said. “This is the typical time for a flu outbreak, it’s the normal seasonal swing.”
Reed said while this year’s flu activity has been busy and widespread, it’s not the worst the area has seen in recent memory. He said a massive outbreak in 2008 and another severe one in spring of 2011 were much more alarming.