Flu vaccine is here but few are getting it

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE)- Area healthcare providers are reporting a big drop in the number of people getting flu shots. Even though some people may think it's still early, cases of flu can start showing up in October and since it takes a few weeks after the vaccine for antibodies to build, time is ticking.

At Norton Community Medical Associates in Clarksville, Dr. Jill Howell-Berg says it's cyclical, "they'll be a really bad flu season and patients are more concerned and parents are more concerned. And then a few years when the flu season doesn't seem to be as intense."

The fear is that fewer fears over problems like H1N1 or flu vaccine shortages may cause the public to be less motivated to get protection. At Louisville area Walgreen stores, pharmacists are seeing the early trend.

Stephanie Arnett is giving just a few shots a day, compared to a typical 10 to 15 shots at this point. "Based on where we were last year, we're definitely down 50 percent at this time" Stephanie says.

Sadly, says Dr. Howell-Berg "there are 25,000 deaths a year caused by flu and 10% of those deaths are children. That's 2500 children, a lot of children."

"It doesn't have to be an H1N1 epidemic to see deaths from flu" Arnett says.

To get protected, keep in mind any child younger than 9 that's getting the vaccine for a first time, will need a second dose a month later. FluMist which is a live virus, is also available for children older than 2. And for the second year, patients over 65 can choose a new type of vaccine called FluZone that's four times as strong as the regular flu shot.