Adult flu shot supply spent
By MELISSA SULLIVAN
Eagle Staff Writer
Dr. Charles Williams, the Brazos County health authority, said a poll of about six health-care providers around the county last week revealed 58 cases of influenza from Jan. 21 to Jan. 28. Another 258 people had a viral illness and flu-like symptoms, but those cases have not been confirmed as influenza, he said.
“Our concern is we’re going to see more cases because of the shortage of the vaccine itself,” he said, “and this is just a realization of the fears we had.”
The Brazos County Health Department has run out of adult flu vaccine doses at a time when the number of cases in the area has surged, health officials said.
Dr. Charles Williams, the Brazos County health authority, said the department still has about 150 infant doses and 100 doses for children up to age 18. Once those run out, there is no guarantee the department will get additional supplies.
“I know we are still getting calls and we are having to tell them we are out of the vaccine,” he said Tuesday. “At this point in time, we don’t have any reassurance that we are going to get any more adult vaccines or children’s vaccines when we run out.”
The health department announced near the end of January it had a few adult doses available, and by Monday they were gone, Williams said. More requests have been made for adult doses than children’s doses, he said.
The number of flu cases in the Brazos Valley grew rapidly over the past several weeks (Eagle, Feb. 3), prompting health officials to encourage residents to consider getting flu shots.
A nationwide vaccine shortage prompted the health department to restrict giving shots to only those most at risk of severe complications from the flu until late January.
Those who wish to receive a flu shot are encouraged to contact their primary health-care provider and schedule an appointment, Williams said.
The flu season normally begins around October and continues into the early part of spring, when the number of cases begins to decrease, Williams said.
The number tends to go up as the holiday season approaches. But this year, health officials saw a late peak in cases just in the past couple of weeks.
The flu can be treated within 48 hours after symptoms appear with an antiviral medication that may shorten the length of the illness, Williams said. The medicine will not kill the virus, but it can diminish the severity of the symptoms, he said.
With a few months of the flu season left, Williams said the community needs to practice good hygiene to reduce the risk of getting sick. He suggests covering your nose and mouth when coughing, washing your hands often, staying away from anyone who may be infected and keeping away from public places to limit the spread of the disease.
“We are hoping this is the worst and the cases after this week will start diminishing,” Williams said. “But the fear here is we are on the upswing of the peak, rather than the downside.”
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