Pharmacists anticipate start of flu season
The government shutdown has halted CDC monitoring of the flu.
Meijer has announced that its pharmacists expect to administer 40 percent more flu shots this season than last.
Meanwhile, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which keeps tabs on flu reports from around the nation, has had to suspend that work pending a resolution of the funding impasse in Congress.
Meijer attributes its predicted increase in flu shots to its new walk-in services at pharmacies in Meijer stores throughout the Midwest, and its other new options for flu shots, which it says makes getting the shots easier for families.
“Meijer customers know that we’re making it easy for them to take care of their families by offering walk-in services and a variety of immunization choices to better meet their needs,” said Nat Love, vice president of Meijer’s pharmaceutical sales division. “If one person in your family is sick, chances are the illness will circulate throughout your home. The flu vaccine really is your best defense for keeping your entire family healthy.”
Seasonal influenza, also known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory disease that can cause mild to severe illness, and at times, lead to hospitalization or death. Every flu season is different, and influenza effects vary from person to person, according to the CDC.
CDC researchers have studied the influenza virus that caused the 1918-19 flu pandemic, which killed as many as 50 million people worldwide — including many in Grand Rapids, as shown by a review of microfilm of Grand Rapids newspapers from that period. The CDC report, Characterization of the Reconstructed 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic Virus, was published in an issue of Science magazine.
Early this summer, the CDC announced that manufacturers had already begun shipping flu vaccines for the 2013-2014 season, and between 135 million and 139 million doses of vaccine were being produced.
Ample supplies should be available, according to the CDC, which recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older should get a yearly flu vaccine, ideally by October. The seasonal flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May.
However, the shutdown of the federal government means that the CDC’s normal flu surveillance is not taking place at this time, according to medcitynews.com.