Flu Vaccine by the Numbers: November 18, 2011

Since the flu season started last month, there’s been little activity with the virus. But healthcare professionals are keeping themselves busy, administering vaccinations. Kim McLaughlin being one of the takers.

“I do think that we need them, I’m very happy to have the flu shot.”

After the outbreak of H1N1 in 2009, more Americans put the flu shot on their to-do list. Last year set a record for vaccinations in this country.

“We want to inoculate the herd. If you can make sure that the general population is inoculated then you don’t have huge outbreaks of influenza,” says Dr. Bruce Lipschutz, an internal medicine physician with Lee Memorial Health System.

Last year nearly 131 million people, or 43% of the U.S. population took the flu shot. That’s 8 million more than the previous year. In preparation this year, more than 110 million doses were made available. Lee Memorial Health System is fully loaded, including a stock of higher dose vaccines for the elderly.

“Several thousand doses of the higher dose vaccine that are specifically designed for people over 65 because it has an extra a higher dose and causes a better immune response,” says Steve Streed, Director of Epidemiology for Lee Memorial Health System.

New recommendations advise everyone six months and older get the vaccination. Experts suggest making it part of your annual health screening.

“They did the flu shot and then they did a tetanus shot as well for the whooping cough,” says Zach Weicht.

New dad Zach decided to take the plunge this year.

“Number one for the health of the baby and number two just to be safe. I mean why risk it you know? It’s something that takes five minutes to do, doesn’t hurt.”

Flu season typically extends until mid-May, so there’s still time to give it a shot.