Flu Blues in the Sunshine State

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Health officials can’t say how many doses will ultimately be available this flu season, but they believe there will be enough vaccine for the high-risk Floridians who really need shots.

Sixty-eight-year-old Rita Hodson and her husband got turned away twice from flu shot clinics that ran out of shots. They decided to wait a few weeks so more fragile senior citizens could get shots first.

Rita Hodson says, “We took a look at who was in those lines and decided we were in better shape to not have one than some of those other people who we saw.”

Health officials are hoping Floridians who are not in high risk groups do hold off for a little while to give supplies time to replenish. Florida health secretary, John Agwunobi, says the one manufacturer still producing vaccine is pumping out three million doses a week.

Dr. John Agwunobi says, “If there isn’t enough for you to receive vaccine this week, don’t get upset. There probably will be vaccines at that same site or at another site in your community within about a week or two.”

Health officials say more than 850,000 flu shots have already been distributed in Florida. That’s far more than usual this early in the season. Secretary of elder affairs, Terry White, compares the run on flu shots since the shortage was announced with the fear of gas rationing last month.

Terry White says, “There’s no reason to panic because there’s plenty of time between now and the peak season. I compare it like what happened in the hurricane where folks thought they were going to ration gasoline and it didn’t occur.”

In the meantime, Gov. Jeb Bush is directing the state Health Department to use all available resources to insure the most vulnerable citizens get their shots, but those of us not in a high-risk group may have to go without this year.

Flu season peaks in Florida between January and February, so if you are a high-risk patient there is still time to get a flu shot.