Flu shots here, but in short supply

Just when the flu shot is in the highest demand, some residents are finding the vaccination hard to come by.

Calls to various providers around town reported shortages and delays in getting everyone vaccinated who sought the shot.

The Mesa County Health Department, for example, on Thursday had flu vaccinations, but wait times to receive one was about an hour. Vaccinations were sold out on Thursday at Rite Aid, 400 N. First St., but 50 doses were expected today. A waiting list of 25 people to get those shots had formed by Thursday morning. City Market, 200 Rood Ave., also was out of the vaccines on Thursday, but more were expected today.

Primary Care Partners, 3150 N. 12th St., said they were out of the vaccines and didn’t believe they weren’t getting any more this season.

Demand may be growing for the vaccine now that news is spreading that much of the nation is suffering from flu-like symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Areas in New England reportedly have been experiencing an especially brutal flu season, with the city of Boston declaring a health emergency on Wednesday after the flu claimed 18 lives there.

Widespread flu outbreaks have been reported in 43 states, including Colorado. Statewide, 506 people had been hospitalized with the flu this season as of Jan. 5, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

However, Mesa County appears to be bucking some of those statistics.

Only 11 people had been hospitalized for the flu from Oct. 7, 2012, to Jan. 5, according to CDPHE. The number of reported flu cases has decreased in Mesa County from 1.4 percent for the week between Dec. 29 and Jan. 2, down from 2 percent the previous week.

Eighteen children nationwide this 2012-13 season have died after experiencing the flu, the CDC reported.

Though it may seem the flu season is almost over, the CDC reports that the sickness typically peaks in February and can linger through May. The organization recommends an annual vaccination for everyone six months of age and older.

Good luck if you can find one.

As of Jan. 5, 128.1 million doses have been distributed and manufacturers estimate they will produce 135 million this season, the CDC said.

In Boston, a public health emergency was declared Wednesday as flu season struck in earnest and the state reported 18 flu-related deaths so far.

The city is working with health care centers to offer free flu vaccines and hopes to set up places where people can get vaccinated. The city said there have been four flu-related deaths, all elderly residents, since the unofficial start of the flu season Oct. 1.

“The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family is to get the flu shot,” said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

The city was experiencing its worst flu season since at least 2009, Menino said, with about 700 confirmed cases of the flu, compared with 70 all of last season.

Massachusetts was one of 29 states reporting high levels of “influenza-like illness,” according to the most recent weekly flu advisory issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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