Even though the flu vaccine offers some protection, many people are opting out of it this year. As of November 2012, only 37 percent of Americans reported that they had received a flu shot.
“That’s pretty typical,” said Bill Hanage, epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health. “And it’s not enough to make much of a dent in transmission.”
Doctors recommend that senior citizens and children receive the shots since their immune systems can be more susceptible.
“If you have a child under 6 months, as I do, the best means of protecting them is to make sure the people around them are vaccinated,” Hanage said. “I’ve had my flu shot.”
While some have taken strides early to avoid infection, many people have waited until seeing family, friends and co-workers with cold symptoms to take action. As news continues to spread about this year’s intense outbreak, more people are racing to their doctors and drug stores for vaccinations.
Pharmacies in New York are having trouble keeping up with the last minute demand for shots.
“We ordered more, but just don’t know when they’ll come in, “said Pharmacist Keila Mena. “No one wanted shots at the beginning of the season. We were basically begging people.”
Health officials recommend seeing a physician as soon as flu-like symptoms appear. They advise that you stay home from work as to avoid spreading the infection as well as using elbows to cover mouths when coughing or sneezing.