Thursday, October 08, 2009

Down with the Sickness

Flu season hasn't officially kicked off yet and already there are reports in the press about the fact that flu vaccine supplies are running low at present. While pharmaceutical companies have announced that there will be ample supplies of both, many have been surprised at the revalations that there isn't enough regular flu vaccine available out there already. Part of the problem is that most of the companies that manufacture the vaccine for the 'normal' flu have been working overtime to produce ample supplies for the swine flu vaccine. What does this mean for the rest of us? Well it means that you should probably go early to get vaccinated. the longer one waits the more likely it is that you won't get the vaccines.

And yes, I did say vaccines as in more than one. What many people still don't realize is that just because the name of the virus contains the word flu, one vaccine won't cure both of them. Part of the reason for the panic in the public is that there's real concern that even though there is already an effective vaccination for swine flu available, it is possible that it won't be used as many people would wrongly assume that their normal flu shot will prevent swine flu as well. That's not the case and especially not the case this year with swine flu predicted to run rampant.

In previous years, customers could literally walk into their local grocery store and request a flu shot and get one in less time (usually) than it takes to check out your groceries in the lane run by the pimply faced kid. Now local stores in Washington report that many grocery stores are reporting that they have administered nearly twice the number of vaccinations already this year compared to what was administered last year. Although in most stores it is still possible to walk in and get vaccinated, stores are encouraging people to call ahead and confirm that they still have supplies of the vaccine to give them.

The fortunate thing is that increasing numbers of offices are also starting to offer flu shots these days and so getting a regular flu shot may not be an issue but the rush to get the swine flu vaccine may kick in as soon as it becomes available to the public at large. Doctors indicate that people should get the swine flu vaccine as quickly as possible to avoid any long term concerns about catching even a mild dose of the virus. They say that if you wait to get a normal flu shot it should still be okay as the normal strains of the flu won't really hit until February or March. Swine flu is predicted to hit hard and heavy closer to the end of this year so it's a good idea to get immunized as quickly as possible.

I just find it irresponsible at times though to see the media attempting to spread panic by stating that vaccine supplies are already running low in such a manner as to hint that people won't ever be able to get immunized. As it is most people aren't patient when it comes to these types of cases so then why perpetuate it by covering it as if it is a major problem? It is a concern but not to the point that the majority of our population stands to get the illness due to not being able to get immunization. What worries me is that people won't bother investigating because they think that supplies are already low so why bother and then won't bother to get immunized against anything. The result being that we'll probably help spread the disease more than killing it off effectively. I feel that if we just try to learn a little more about it and keep ourselves educated and not perpetuate fear of what 'could' happen, then we'll be fine (and healthy) in the long run.



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