I remember not too many years ago when it was a chore to convince people to get a flu shot. "It'll give me the flu" was their common reason. Now, anyone who has had the actual flu (temp up to 105, body aches, severe headache, bad cough and high risk of pneumonia) will agree that you do not get the flu from a flu shot. Studies show that people who get a flu shot don't have any side effects such as "getting the flu."
That has changed. Everyone seems to want a flu shot now. Some of the reason for this change is from education, some from a couple of bad flu outbreaks, some from fear of bird flu (which the flu shot won't protect against). The bottom line is that we can't keep enough of them in our office. To compound this problem, the following article details another problem:
Slow delivery of flu vaccine worries some pediatricians
By Jonathan D. Rockoff
October 19, 2006
WASHINGTON -- Federal health officials sought to reassure concerned physicians and parents yesterday, saying there would be plenty of flu vaccine available by the end of November to immunize children and adults in time for the season's peak in February.
Many doctors complain that they haven't received any or most of their seasonal flu shots yet, while chain stores have.
Pediatricians say this is especially troublesome for children being vaccinated for the first time. Those children need two doses, spread a month apart, after which they aren't truly immune for two more weeks.
Dr. Jeanne M. Santoli, deputy director of the immunization services division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, addressed the concerns at a news conference, saying vaccine makers have so far supplied 40 million doses to as many physicians and clinics as possible.
She denied that vaccine makers and distributors had favored larger customers with the first shipments.
By the end of this month, Santoli said, 75 million doses should be available, 15 million more doses than at the same time last year.
For all of this flu season, 115 million doses should be available, the most ever.
With vaccine supplies mounting, Santoli said there will be sufficient time to immunize everyone for the peak of flu season in February.
You have to realize that flu shots are no money-maker for doctors' offices. The profit we make on them is very small (in fact, from Medicare we even take a loss). We really only offer them as a service to our patients.
Plus, we have to order flu shots many months ahead of time, estimating how many of them we will need. The past few years has brought shortages, forcing us to limit shots to high-risk people only. This created the ironic situation of patients getting very angry when we refused to give them the shot (compared to previous years when we could not convince people to get them).
We went through our current supply of shots in about a week, but they only shipped us half of a shipment. Now we have patients again frustrated with our office. I think we ordered enough, but this maneuvering every year is a major headache.
So what should you do about a flu shot? If you are over 65, have diabetes, lung disease, or heart disease you should get one. Pregnant women, healthcare workers and children from 6 months to 4 years are also recommended to get them. Also, if you are around high-risk people you should get them. If you don't fit into any of these categories, it still may be a good idea to get one. I certainly don't want to get the flu.
The high risk groups get it because the risk of hospitalization and death is higher for people who don't get a flu shot. The lower risk people get it so they won't miss work or feel bad. Both are OK reasons.
The only reason to not get a flu shot is if you have a serious egg allergy.
That is, if you doctor can get some of them.....