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Despite time of year, flu shots readily available
Vickie Trusty checks the supply of flu vaccine in one of the refrigerators at The Longstreet Clinic Tuesday. The clinic has noticed that fewer people are getting flu shots this year. - photo by Tom Reed

Flu shot clinics

The Longstreet Clinic flu shot clinic
When: 9 a.m. to noon and 2-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday
Where: Suite 270, 725 Jesse Jewell Parkway, Gainesville
How much: $20, cash or check
Contact: Call 770-533-6579 to arrange an off-site flu shot clinic for your business.

Hall County Health Department flu shot clinic
When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays; closed from noon to 1 p.m. daily
Where: 1290 Athens St., Gainesville
How much: $25
Contact: Call 770-531-5656 to arrange an off-site flu shot clinic for your business.

When it comes to the flu, some health officials are a bit perplexed.

The seasonal illness is expected, yet local clinics’ shelves are still filled with unused flu vaccine.

“We still have refrigerators full of the vaccines. That’s very unusual,” said Lorrie Caruana of The Longstreet Clinic in Gainesville. “Usually by the first of November we don’t have any left and are scrambling to find more.”

According to Caruana, the clinic placed its usual order, 6,200 adult doses, but they aren’t going as fast as they have in years past.

“In previous years, our shipment of flu vaccines didn’t arrive until the last (weeks) in October, but this year they actually came early,” Caruana said. “This year we received them the first of September, so we even started offering shots earlier than before. So to have this many left now is very unusual.”

Inversely, health officials with District 2 Public Health, which includes Hall County in its coverage area, have seen an increase in vaccinations. Since beginning in September, the public health departments have given out more than 2,000 flu shots, compared to 1,400 at the same time last year, public health spokesman Dave Palmer said.

“This year, we have had more organizations to allow the health department to do more off-site clinics for seasonal flu (shots) than we were able to do last year,” Palmer said. “That has helped get the vaccine to more people.”

Although public health officials have seen an increase inpeople getting shots, department officials have some ideas about why others may be seeing a decrease.

“For years, people got the flu shot from a traditional health care provider like the health department, clinic or private physician. Now they can elect to get the flu shot at their pharmacy, grocery store and other nontraditional supplier,” Palmer said.

“This year, many of the large chain stores began offering flu shots much earlier — in August and September — than they had previously been offered, usually in October. This early offering and convenience may play a part in traditional health care providers giving fewer flu shots.”

No matter where you get inoculated, health officials say it is important to get your vaccination before we hit peak flu season, which in Georgia is typically around January.

“The incubation period for the shot to be most effective is around six to eight weeks. If you wait until peak season to get your shot and come into contact with the virus the day after getting the shot — you’re going to get sick. You may have a lesser case, but you’ll still get ill,” Caruana said.

“When you get the flu shot, you don’t have instant immunity. You have to give your body time to build up antibodies.”

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