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Flu Bug Beginning to Bite

Nov 22, 2002 | WFIE-TV, IN The flu bug is starting to bite in the tri-state. It's prime time for flu shots and it's a lot easier to find the vaccine this year.

Last year, when one major manufacturer stopped production, other companies scrambled to meet the huge demand. And they're finally caught up now. So there's no excuse not to get a flu shot this year.

Brent Ellard's having no trouble getting a flu shot now. Last year, that wasn't the case. "I usually get one every year since they've had the flu shot and I don't get the flu, and so I wanted it. But last year they were in short supply, so I never did get one. That was the only year I didn't get one."

In the last five weeks, the Visiting Nurse Association has given 12,000 flu shots at grocery stores, workplaces and even a golf course. The reason they can be everywhere? "It's available, where in the past few years we've had some trouble with the distribution of the vaccine. This year, it is very available, so we've been able to be at more public sites", explains registered nurse Cindy Meeks.

The CDC recommends children as young as six months get a shot, although the VNA is only giving them to people over the age 18.

Seniors or anyone with a chronic illness are most at risk for flu complications, which kill some 20,000 people every year.

And yet, some people still won't get one, says Meeks. "Some people still think you can the flu from the flu shot and you cannot. It's a dead virus. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot."

The flu knocked down Don Kipp for nearly two weeks last year. "I really didn't eat for five days and I lost 20 pounds. I was down to 140 pounds. It took me about a month to get it all back, so after that, I decided I'm going to do the flu shot every year."

The VNA is also offering pneumonia vaccines. Starting this year, the recommendation is for seniors and people with lung problems to get one every five years instead of ten. One company is making the vaccine without a chemical called thimerosal which contains mercury. Although it's never been proven, many people believe mercury based vaccines are linked to autism. But you have to ask for the special vaccine, it's not mainstream.

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