It has been a very active flu season as Rhode Island and other parts of the United States have seen a surge in reported cases of influenza. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22,048 flu cases were recorded from Sept. 30 through the end of 2012. During that same period in 2011, only 849 cases were reported.
Though the 2011-2012 was a relatively quiet flu season in comparison to decades past, this flu season started earlier than past years and also hosts a different dominant strain – H3N2. Young children and the elderly are more susceptible to this strain, according to the CDC.
Now, local pharmacies are reporting shortages of flu shots at locations across the region. In Coventry, Walgreens still has vaccinations available and Stop & Shop's pharmacy has only the high dose shot for individuals 65 and older.
Rite Aid is currently offering only the intradermal shot that features a 90% smaller needle, but is not covered by all insurance carriers. The store is expecting a delivery of more vaccines on Wednesday.
Vaccines are currently out of stock at CVS with an anticipated delivery on Thursday at the earliest, and the Walmart pharmacy's supply is completely depleted.
Despite the shortages, Coventry residents have another option to get vaccinated this week. On Saturday, there will be a Coventry Community Vaccination Clinic where residents can get their flu, pneumonia and Tdap vaccines. There are no out-of-pocket expenses and no money will be collected. If you have insurance, bring your card.
The clinic will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Coventry High School.
With all the hype about how bad this flu season is, many wonder if they truly need a flu shot. Last week, the Rhode Island Department of Health "debunked" several myths about the flu and how severe flu complications can truly be.
Still unsure if you need a shot? Want to learn more about the flu, how its spread and what are the most common flu symptoms? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following information: