Flu season in full swing, shots may be hard to find - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Flu season in full swing, shots may be hard to find


Flu season is now in full swing.  Hundreds of people have been hospitalized, and the worst may not be over yet. 

The surge in sickness is driving a lot of people to want the flu shot, but when there's a sudden rush of people asking for the flu shot, some clinics struggle to keep enough of the vaccine on hand.  That means some people wanting to get vaccinated now, in the middle of the flu season, could be out of luck.

Abby White is a new mom who's already had to cope with a sick baby.

"Group B strep when she was 10 days old.  She was hospitalized for two weeks, and then just last week, no two weeks ago, she had RSV," White said.

After a recent outbreak of flu at the Cedar Falls daycare where she works, White worries three-month-old Amaya might get sick again, especially since she and her daughter don't have the flu shot.

"A lot of hand washing and bleaching things and stuff like that. Hopefully she doesn't get it and hopefully I don't get it either," said White.

Covenant Medical Center pharmacist John Hamiel says this flu season has created a perfect storm when it comes to the flu vaccine supply.

"We've got a very robust flu season.  we didn't have a real bad one last year, so people didn't get the vaccine, and a lot of the companies were stuck holding a lot of extra and didn't want to order as much as they had before.  plus, there's the fact with a big flu season, we've got a lot more demand this year," said John Hamiel, Covenant Medical Center pharmacist.

Of the more than 3,000 flu shot doses the hospital ordered, only about 80 are left.

"The overall quantity of flu vaccine is a limited amount, and you can't go back in and make more and more and more.  the companies have a set amount they make per year, and once that's used up, there's really not much we can do about it," said Hamiel.

Flu shots are still available, but supply may be spotty: ample at one clinic and none at another, and the type of vaccines vary, too.  Flu mist, which has a shorter shelf life, may be harder to come by than traditional shots.

So there are a few lessons here.  If you still need to get a flu shot, you should.  But experts suggest you call your clinic ahead of time to make sure they have vaccines available.  It's also good to continue good hygiene practices to avoid getting sick:  covering coughs and sneezes, and frequent hand washing.  Next year, it might be best to consider getting vaccinated early, so you know flu shots will be available.

Covenant Medical Center says it will order flu vaccine for next year very soon.  It will consider increased demand for flu shots this season when deciding how much to order.

Meanwhile, Allen Hospital in Waterloo tells KWWL it still has ample supply of flu vaccine for this year.

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