Many Preparing Early For Flu Season

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September 26, 2005
We should see the weather start to cool off soon, and flu season isn’t far behind. It officially begins next month and a high-risk group is already thinking ahead.

Long lines, frustration and chilly weather, it’s all that many of these people got instead of a flu shot last year.

“We had a shortage last year, in fact we ordered ahead this year, they’re ready today,” said Dr. Dean Harrell, MCG Senior Center.

An order of flu vaccinations just arrived Monday at Dr. Dean Harrell’s office. Good thing. He says patients at MCG’s Senior Center are already asking for them.

“Older folks have a lot more co-morbid illnesses, so they need their flu shots,” Harrell said.

They want them earlier this year. Many got the flu last season because they missed out on a shot. Federal health officials are now urging people to get vaccinated on a 3-tier system: Tier 1 includes high-risk patients (that includes the elderly, those who are chronically ill, healthcare workers and children under six months). They should be vaccinated before October 24. Tier 2 is people who live with people in tier 1. Tier 3 is everybody else. They should get shots after October 24.

For Dr. Harrell, it will be a busy flu season.

“We have right now 1,600-2,000 patients that come to this clinic so we’ll be giving a lot,” Harrell said.

With more suppliers approved by the FDA, health officials say we shouldn’t be stuck without shots this year. But that’s no reason to wait around.

“As early as possible, now would be the best time,” Harrell said.

If you don’t fall in the high-risk group, then you have to wait until October 24 to get your flu shot. The Richmond County Health Department has ordered about 13,000 doses for the district, which includes 13 counties. In South Carolina, the State Health Department has requested about 250,000 doses of flu vaccine.