People who weren't lining up to get a flu shot last month are heading to their family doctor. A lot of those who went to the doctor are being treated for flu or flu-like symptoms.
David Avery, a Vienna physician, says, “In the last couple of weeks, we've had quite a few patients who look like and acted like they had flu, and flu has been confirmed in the state. This is the earliest I've seen in many years.”
And it was also like that across the country. In the past week, an outbreak of a strain called type A Panama was striking in the west and midwest. At least seven deaths were reported.
“I think the strain of the virus is different than what people expected, and people have been in and out of tight groups and communities; more sheltered in closed rooms. So, we spread the bugs,” added Avery.
The Washington County Health Department had 3,000 flu shots available this fall for the general public. By last week, all of those shots had been given out.
“We hope to get some more vaccine, but we don't know if we'll be successful, but we still have a lot of people who have contacted us and still want to get flu shots,” said Dr. Kathleen Meckstroth, Washington County Health Commissioner.
Meckstroth doesn't believe the fear of flu is the reason for the shots going so fast. She says it's just a matter of getting the word out about the need for preventative measures.
There is concern, however, about the availability of shots. A recent study by Saint Jude's Hospital says while the technology is available to make them, bureaucracy is making it difficult to get the shots out to the public.