Pharmacy managers at Walgreens and Shopko say there are less than 20 left. CVS says they have 30 for people between the age of 18 and 64, but only five left for those 65 and older. Officials at Wal-Mart's pharmacy say they don't have the shot.
Medicine Shoppe pharmacy manager Chuck Savage says his store has a few 18-to-64 shots left, but that’s it. He says the reason it’s in short supply has something to do with a lower level of flu shots given out last year.
“Last year, not that many people got the flu shot as in years past, so we didn’t order as much. Probably a lot of people didn’t, and when it happens, people want to get it [and] it’s not just there,” says Savage. “If they get it every year, you can gauge this a bit better not just [for] people that are buying it, but people who are manufacturing it too.”
Savage says there’s no guarantee there will be more flu shots to replace the ones the pharmacies in town have when they run out.
There’s still the option of the Morgan County Health Department. Officials there say they’ve got about 300 shots left.
Passavant Area Hospital Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. Scott Boston says the flu vaccine needs at least a couple of weeks after being administered to activate in the immune system.
“The idea of getting a vaccination is to give your immune system a head start for whenever it sees the real germ, so if you’ve been vaccinated, your immune system has already activated the antibodies, the immune cells so they can quickly kill off the virus when you’re exposed to the influenza virus,” says Boston.
“Ideally you want to have the shot at least six weeks before the flu season starts to have full effect, but anytime you get the flu vaccine, you’re giving yourself a head start against the virus because you can start developing immunity immediately after getting the shot.”
Boston adds there isn’t a cure for most symptoms of the flu, but there are ways to treat it if you get it.
“The acetaminophen, ibuprofen for the aches and pains, some of the over-the-counter medicines for the cough generally are there to help you feel better. The thing that sort of cures the virus and gets it out of your system is your immune system,” he says.
“So, for most of us that are healthy and don’t have things like diabetes or asthma or cardiac issues, it’s really just a matter of treating the symptoms, keep you comfortable while your body’s fighting the virus off.”
Passavant officials say the emergency department has thus far seen 11 flu cases per 100 visits from December 30th to January 12th. That number bumped to 16 cases per 100 visits last week, and got even higher over the weekend.
The average number of cases is 10. Passavant as a result continues to issue a “flu alert” for anyone visiting the hospital.
Flu season in Illinois usually runs through the end of February into March.