Demand for flu vaccine climbs as season's death toll rises

Santa Clara County reports two more deaths due to flu

With flu season in full swing and more than a dozen flu-related deaths reported in the Bay Area as of today, many residents are getting vaccinated, and flu shot providers are ordering extra doses to keep up with demand.

There have been 14 confirmed flu deaths in the Bay Area so far, with two more reported today in Santa Clara County and another in Santa Cruz County.

In Santa Clara County, there have been four flu deaths this season, including the two reported today. Those two victims were 61 and 62 years old.

The two previous victims, who died in December, were a 61-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman, Santa Clara County Public Health Department spokeswoman Amy Cornell said.

Santa Cruz County's first flu death was reported today. The victim was a male under the age of 50, county health officials said.

The deaths of two other males under 50 in the county are suspected of being flu-related but that has yet to be confirmed, according to the county.

Other deaths have been reported in Sonoma, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, San Francisco and Alameda counties this winter.

This year's flu shot includes protection against the H1N1 strain, known as the "swine flu." H1N1, which first emerged in humans in 2009, is more dangerous to young and middle-age adults than other flu strains.

Bay Area residents have been heading out in droves to get flu shots in recent days. The higher demand has caused the flu vaccine supply to dwindle at some pharmacies and health centers.

At the Walgreens store at 640 Fourth St. in San Francisco, a pharmacy technician said the vaccine supply was running low.

He said the store receives one shipment a week but that in the past week there was an increase in the number of patients requesting a shot. He said the pharmacy has put in a special order for more of the vaccine.

At the 24-hour Walgreens at 440 Blossom Hill Road in San Jose, a pharmacy employee said the stock of vaccines was also being depleted, although the store still had enough for now.

She said a customer had called asking if that store had shots available because another San Jose Walgreens had run out.

Marc Brown, a spokesman for Kaiser Permanente, said there is high demand at clinics for the vaccination, but that new orders for shots have been placed and Kaiser is not expected to experience a shortage.

In a statement released today, Randy Bergen, head of the annual flu vaccination campaign for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, said an additional 20,000 doses from suppliers was delivered to the region today, and the vaccines are being distributed to local pharmacies and clinics.

Kaiser's Northern California region expects to receive more than 40,000 more doses in the next few days to meet demand.

In Santa Clara County, where the most recent deaths were reported, there is a full supply of the vaccine, county health department spokeswoman Cornell said.

She said the health department has enough of the vaccine and is urging people to drop by one of the department's facilities for a shot.

San Francisco Department of Public Health spokeswoman Colleen Chawla said, "There is no indication of a vaccine shortage" at San Francisco clinics and the department's immunization center at 101 Grove St.

Health officials are urging vaccinations for everyone ages 6 months and older.

The vaccine takes about two weeks after inoculation to be fully effective, according to health officials.

— Bay City News Service


Like this comment
Posted by gina
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 14, 2014 at 11:53 am

Flu shots have been available as early as last october. why all of a sudden are dingbats running around just now getting their flu shots. [Portion removed.] its like people wait until the hottest part of summer to look for fans or the coldest part of winter to get space heaters. I don't get it. why can't people strike when the iron is hot and supplies are available? no they sit and wait until supplies run out. they have only themselves to blame if they get sick.

Like this comment
Posted by Tracey Chen
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 14, 2014 at 1:38 pm

lol...seriously people...."This year's flu shot includes protection against the H1N1 strain " Well...howzabout you report which strain is killing them this year.....

in reality....

every person i know who gets these gets sick every freaking year....

learn basic hygiene and health

Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2014 at 1:48 pm

@Tracey It is the H1N1 that is causing the deaths. The vaccine protects against it. The vaccine only protects again flu viruses which are very different than cold viruses. You can still catch colds. A cold is in no way as serious as the flu. Most people who say they have the flu just have a common cold.

Like this comment
Posted by businessdecision
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 14, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Parent, how do you know? In 2009 H1N1 was killing young people, not ones aged 61, 61, and 62.

Like this comment
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 14, 2014 at 2:53 pm

@ businessdecision - maybe parent know because parent reads the news, or knows how to use Google? It is h1n1, and there are sadly a lot of young people dying in Caifornia.

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by businessdecision
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 14, 2014 at 2:56 pm

goodbye everyone
mr recycle of duveneck/st francis sees that i can't read
so i will sign off for good

Like this comment
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 15, 2014 at 10:01 am

Never gotten a flu shot and never will. Don't take any other medications except for an aspirin when I get a headache. I think people who "have" to take all those medications are at way more risk of a fatal illness than someone who takes care of themselves naturally.
The only beneficiaries to prescription meds (and OTC meds) is the pharmaceutical companies...which is why I have stock in one or two!! LOL! Lucky me!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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