Vaccines still available as flu continues to spread - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Vaccines still available as flu continues to spread


NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Workers are frequently restocking the shelves at Walgreens, where medicines like Mucinex are selling quickly.

"We've been ordering Tamiflu every day just to meet demands," said pharmacy manager Chris Riviere. "It's definitely better to prevent the flu than to be treating it."

Riviere said there's still plenty of time to get a flu shot.

The season usually peaks in late January to early February, but cases can appear as late as May.

The Department of Health and Hospitals says the flu is still widespread around the state, and last week DHH reported the second pediatric death this season.

State officials know of at least 46 deaths from influenza since October and say there could be many more.

"The estimate is about 500,000 people got the flu, about 5,000 were hospitalized and about 500 died of the flu," said state epidemiologist Raoult Ratard.

This year's vaccine offers protection against both seasonal flu and the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu. That strain is more common this season, and also more likely to cause complications in people who have pre-existing conditions.

"The vaccine, if it does not prevent completely the flu, at least you should not have a very serious flu unless you have very severe, chronic conditions," Ratard said.

While flu medicines are flying off the shelf, local pharmacists say they're not seeing a shortage of flu vaccines. The shots are often free with insurance.

"Cash price on it is $31.99 this year, but over 90 percent of our patients that have come in have been covered by insurance at no charge," Riviere said.

That's a relief for Andrew Davis, whose big reason to get vaccinated this year is his little one.

"She's everything to me," he said. "If I stay healthy, she stays healthy, we live a long life."

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