Health officials encourage patients to get flu shots as early as possible to avoid possible shortages


FILE – This Jan. 23, 2020 file photo shows a patient receiving a flu vaccination in Mesquite, Texas. On Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the vaccine has been more than 50% effective in preventing flu illness severe enough to send a child to the doctor’s office. Health experts consider that pretty good. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fall is in full swing, which means many people are getting their annual flu shot. But some doctors are encouraging people to get theirs early, as the demand for the vaccine is increasing.

Dr. Jeff Warren, a family medicine physician, is already talking to his patients, suggesting they go ahead and get their flu shot now. He is telling his patients that, as around the country some are finding a shortage of the flu vaccine, as more people show up to get the shot.

Additionally, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some people are even more concerned about getting their flu vaccine. Warren said if you can, go ahead and get the shot now.

Additionally, Warren said with many people waiting for a vaccine for COVID, it is important not to get those two shots together.

“It’s coming earlier this year,” Warren said. “It’s gonna be important not to get the flu and COVID at the same time because that could be particularly deadly. If some places have run out, there will be other places that have the flu shot. Just call and go get them.”

As mentioned, the flu vaccine is coming out much earlier this year. Warren said that is because we are seeing the flu in certain places.

Additionally, he said what doctors are trying to do is eliminate flu-like illnesses that are coming into emergency rooms and hospitals and making sure they have a count of those illnesses being COVID, as opposed to the flu.

At the same time, some people are wondering if they get the flu shot so early would it protect them when the flu season is in full swing.

“I am telling my older patients if you are worried about it running out, get one now and just pay for a booster in January or February and get you another one then. That will last you through the whole season,” Warren said.

Seniors are especially encouraged to get the vaccine. Health officials said if enough people get the vaccine the flu is less likely to spread, which is called herd immunity.

“When you have enough people that have immunity, the virus can’t spread because it goes from one person to one who has had the vaccine, that person doesn’t get sick. If enough of us are like that, that have had the vaccine, then we don’t spread the flu,” Warren said.

Doctors are saying people should try to get their flu shots before the end of October. The health department told WREG-TV; they have not heard of a shortage of flu vaccine in Shelby County.

The Shelby County Health Department said they are getting a large shipment this week and will start offering the vaccine at health clinics in early October.

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