flu shot

Marian Smith somehow missed getting a flu shot this year, which is unlike her — in the past, she always got one.

The 58-year-old Washington D.C. resident says it was easier to remember to get it when the vaccine was provided at a clinic at work. But now the clinic is a bus ride away, and getting the shot wasn't at the top of her mind.

"Of course, I could get it right here at the grocery store," Smith tells NPR, as she rushes to pick up her lunch. "But I just didn't get it — I don't know, I can't tell you why."

Health officials say the United States could have a harsher than usual flu season, and is already showing influenza activity above the national baseline for the first time this season.

This year, the flu season is expected to be among one of the worst to hit the United States.   

Clay County Health Department Officials are spreading the word: If you haven’t gotten your flu shot, now’s the time.

Northeast Florida, like most of the nation, is currently experiencing an elevated number of flu cases.


It’s that time of year again.

Perhaps you recently went into a pharmacy or grocery store, spotted the sign reminding you to get your flu shot and said to yourself, “Nah.  I don’t need it.”

But if you’re in one of several high-risk groups, maybe an ounce of prevention . . . well, you know the rest.

In the following interview, WLRN Health Reporter Sammy Mack clears up some popular misconceptions about the flu shot. If after hearing it you are still doubting, then read our handy FAQ about the flu shot. 

FLU SHOT FAQ

Yes, It Is Possible To Get Your Flu Shot Too Soon

Sep 15, 2016

The pitches from pharmacy chains started in August: Come in and get your flu shot.

Convenience is touted. So are incentives. CVS offers a 20-percent-off shopping pass for everyone who gets a shot, while Walgreens donates toward international vaccination efforts.

The start of flu season is still weeks, if not months, away. Yet marketing of the vaccine has become an almost year-round effort that starts when the shots become available in August and is hyped as long as the supply lasts — often into April or May.

Kimberly Richardson has never gotten a flu shot. Since she's healthy and considers the seasonal vaccines a "best-guess concoction" of the viruses expected to dominate, the northern California gym teacher and mother of two says she didn't want an "injection of something that may or may not keep me healthy in the long run."

Hospitals in Miami-Dade County are reporting increases in the amount of flu-related emergency room visits compared to a year ago, the Miami Herald reports. According to a report from the county Department of Health, 5.9 percent of ER visits between Dec. 28 and Jan. 3 were because of the flu. Last year at that time, the flu accounted for 3.6 percent of the ER visits in Miami-Dade, the Herald reports. 

Steve Newborn

Nearly 1,000 workers at Lee Memorial Health System -- and about 2,000 volunteers -- have been given extra time to get a flu shot under a new rule, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. About 10 percent of Lee Memorial’s workforce missed the original Dec. 1 deadline. Employees can now be disciplined, even fired, if they don’t get the shot or approved for an exemption by Friday, the News-Press reports. 

Steve Newborn

 Two more flu-related deaths have been reported in Orange County, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The most recent deaths include a child and a 54-year-old woman who worked in the auditing department at Florida Hospital.

    

The woman, Mary Lamb, had the H1N1 strain of the flu and spent 18 days on a respirator before dying, her husband said. That strain also has been linked to the deaths of two women in their 30s in Brevard County.

Employees at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg could be fired if they failed to get a flu shot last week, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Officials say patient safety is behind the policy. Only 20 employees have asked for an exemption.

VA Cuts Paperwork, Offers Flu Shot Options

Dec 3, 2013

Veterans in Florida can now get a flu shot at any of more than 800 Walgreens locations and the drug store will electronically forward their immunization record to the VA.

It's a pilot program being tried out in the Veterans Integrated Service Network 8 (VISN8) which includes all of Florida, southern Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It requires no paper record, no remembering at your next VA health care appointment.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Getty Images

While pneumonia is one of the top causes of death for seniors, only about half of Florida’s Hispanic seniors were vaccinated in 2011, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. Experts say many Hispanics don’t know about the vaccine or don’t understand it; they recommend public awareness campaigns that model the multilingual push for flu shots.

This year's flu vaccine appears to be doing a unusually poor job of protecting the elderly, federal health officials reported Thursday.

Overall, this year's flu vaccine appears to be only about 27 percent effective for people ages 65 and older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports in this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Lakeland Ledger

Per dose, flu shots are one of the cheapest vaccines you can get.

Palm Beach Post

Although Florida is experiencing widespread flu activity, it’s not nearly as bad as other states across the country, the Palm Beach Post reports.More than half of the states in the U.S. are reporting high levels of flu-like illness.

Miami Herald

Florida is having one of the worst years for the flu, but health officials don’t think it will be as bad as the swine flu that hit in 2009-2010, the Miami Herald reports.

Tampa Tribune

When H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center asked its employees to get flu shots, only about 60 percent complied. Bribes didn’t work either.

So Moffitt stopped asking and made it hospital policy.

Now, 92 percent of cancer center employees have been immunized, the Tampa Tribune reports. Those who refuse are required to wear a surgical mask at work.