Flu vaccine still available on Mercer Island, supply is limited

Pharmacies on Mercer Island have limited supplies of the flu vaccine due to a nationwide shortage.

UPDATE: As of Tuesday morning Walgreens was out of the vaccine, but expected more to come in soon.

A flu vaccine can save lives — if not your life, maybe the life of someone you know. Each year in the United States alone, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 die from the seasonal flu. People over 50 years old, young children and individuals with other health conditions are at the most risk for complications due to the flu. We all know someone in one of these categories. When we get a flu shot, we’re protecting those we love by not passing the virus on to them.

A flu vaccine can keep you from being miserable — when do you most often get sick? When you’re caught up in work and life and feel you can’t handle “one more thing,” or when you’re run down and tired? People are most susceptible to illness when our immunity is compromised by stress, fatigue, poor diet and other factors. Adding a week of body-wrenching illness to that can be the last straw.

If you work with the public or are a caregiver for someone at high risk — human influenza viruses can survive on surfaces (doorknobs, money, books, table tops) for up to eight hours. If you interact with many people on a daily basis, you can easily be exposed to the flu virus. If you care for an elderly parent, immune-compromised partner or young child, you can pass the virus on without knowing it.

A flu shot will not give you the flu — flu shots contain three influenza viruses that are inactivated (killed). Batches of vaccine are tested by the manufacturer to make sure they are safe. You cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Research studies show that among two randomly chosen groups — one receiving the flu vaccine and one receiving saltwater shots — the only difference was increased soreness in the arm and redness at injection site among those who got the flu shot.

Pharmacies on Mercer Island have limited supplies of the flu vaccine due to a nationwide shortage. Albertsons received a supply of 30 flu shots on Monday, Jan. 14, expected to last for two days, with another 20 vaccines due to arrive on Wednesday. There has been a high demand. “It’s been crazy since last Monday (Jan. 7),” one pharmacist said.

Walgreens also had about 30 doses as of Monday, and has been seeing a lot of people. All Rite Aid chains are shorted or out. The Mercer Island locations are expecting a new supply to arrive this week, but the quantity is unknown.