AUSTIN, Texas — Employees of the independent pharmacy Lamar Plaza Drug Store said they are well-stocked in front of and behind the counter. They welcome the good news during this bad flu season.
“Every day, whether it’s customers coming into the pharmacy or people inquiring over the phone, I would say, every single day we get calls about flu vaccine, whether they’re still available,” said Ashley Nolan, the compounding lab manager.
Pharmacist Jillian Blackwell said that she is seeing an increase in Texans getting flu shots later in the season or getting vaccinated for the first time. She has gotten calls from patients about clinics or major chains running out.
“So in Dripping Springs, when there was a shortage throughout the town of Tamiflu - both in brand and generic - we were lucky enough to have some in stock, so we were able to assist those patients,” Blackwell said.
According to the CDC, there is no shortage in supply of the flu vaccine. Pharmacies usually made their own based on last year’s count. It also takes months for the vaccine to be created.
“Pharmacies tend to order late spring, early May time for the following fall, and that’s supposed to last you all the way from August through March,” Blackwell said.
But some manufacturers are reporting delays when it comes to antiviral drugs. According to the latest state influenza surveillance report, 4,153 Texans died flu-related deaths. The percentage of patients due to influenza-like symptoms and percentage of specimens tested positive in laboratories and hospitals did marginally decrease. Though there is some suggestion activity is leveling off, doctors encourage patients to have patience.
“Not to give up, because we still have weeks to go with the flu season, and so it’s still worth it to get the flu shot if you haven’t already,” Blackwell said.
In a CDC report, early estimates suggest this season’s flu vaccine is 36 percent effective overall. Medical professionals still encourage people to get vaccinated, because it can reduce severity and length of the illness.