Flu vaccine still available at some local outlets
By Jay Braman Jr.
With all the talk on the national news about the current flu epidemic, it appears that many in the region have heeded the warnings and gotten a flu shot to prevent getting the nasty virus.
But unfortunately it appears that the shortage of the vaccine has also hit some parts of the region.
On Monday staff at Margaretville Hospital reported that while they saw an increase in flu cases at the emergency room a couple of weeks ago, that has leveled off.
And while the hospital does have an adequate supply of the vaccine, officials made it clear that the hospital does not offer flu shots to the general public.
It was noted that Dr. Llobet, who has offices at the hospital campus, also has the vaccine in supply. Appointments to get a vaccine are required.
CVS in Margaretville, which offers flu shots, also has some of the vaccine left.
The Phoenicia Pharmacy has none of the vaccine and does not expect to get any.
Down in Boiceville, Neko’s Pharmacy, which had also been giving flu shots to customers, has run out of the vaccine and does not expect anymore to be available either.
Across the street at Maverick Family Health there is still vaccine for patients. Appointments are required.
The severity of this year’s flu season prompted Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to declare a public health emergency for New York State on Saturday, clearing the way for vaccinations to reach children more easily.
“We are experiencing the worst flu season since at least 2009, and influenza activity in New York State is widespread, with cases reported in all 57 counties and all five boroughs of New York City,” Governor Cuomo said Saturday. “Therefore, I have directed my administration, the State Health Department and others to marshal all needed resources to address this public health emergency and remove all barriers to ensure that all New Yorkers - children and adults alike - have access to critically needed flu vaccines.”
The State Health Department reports that the number of patients admitted to hospitals statewide continues to rise with a 55 percent increase in the last week.
Two children have died in New York State so far and at least 10 New York City adults have died from flu-related illness. Statewide adult deaths aren’t tracked.
The executive order permits pharmacists to administer flu vaccinations to patients between six months and 18 years of age, suspending a section of State Education Law that would normally limit the authority of pharmacists to administer immunizing agents to individuals 18 years of age or older.
The governor reminds New Yorkers who have not been vaccinated for influenza that it is not too late to get a vaccination. Since flu season often continues into late winter or early spring, vaccinations at this time of year offer important protection.
Since the flu virus can spread through coughing or sneezing, it is important that family members and people who regularly come in contact with young children or individuals at high risk get a flu shot. In addition, all health care workers should be vaccinated against influenza and other communicable diseases to protect their health and the health of their patients.
Symptoms of influenza resemble those of a cold, but come on swiftly and are more pronounced. A person who has the flu usually has a fever, chills, a severe headache, and muscle aches, as well as a cough or sore throat. Although most people will usually recover from flu without complications, the virus poses a more serious risk for individuals younger than age two, those over 50, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions. Individuals, who have flu-like symptoms like a fever, cough, or sore throat, should call their doctor first before heading to the hospital.