Swine Flu concerns lead to higher demand for flu shots

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - This is the time of year when SAAD Healthcare in Biloxi starts offering seasonal flu shots to schools, nursing homes, and businesses. This year, requests for flu shots are on the rise.

"We've started a little earlier this year. We usually start the second week of September. We've had such a demand that we started September 1st," said the administrator Dorothy Saad-Dunning.  "So far, we have booked over 1,500 people in the month of September."

The administrator says more people are taking precautions against the traditional flu, because of concerns over the Swine Flu.

"It's not just fears, it's education too," she said "The public is more educated and this is a way to hopefully minimize their flu symptoms, or not get the flu at all."

You'll have to wait awhile to get a flu shot at your nearest health department.  That's because the state health department doesn't expect to get its supply of the flu vaccine until sometime in September.  As for the vaccine against the H1NI or Swine Flu, that won't be available until mid-October.

"We always said this year, to be fully immunized, you will probably are going to have three vaccines. Three shots: One of the seasonal flu. That's what they're getting now.  And then two from the Swine Flu," said Dr. Bob Travnicek of the Mississippi Health Department.

"As bad as the Swine Flu is, it certainly has reminded people things they should have been doing all along, and that is protecting themselves," he added.

Even if you get the shots, health officials say continue to practice good hygiene to help cut down on the contamination.

"Keep your hands clean.  Watch your contact.  Maybe not shake as much, shake of the hands.  Maybe just nod and be cautious.  If you got a cough, if you're sick, stay home," said Saad-Dunning.

The state health department has ordered 170,500 doses of the seasonal flu vaccine this year.   Health officials are also working on a plan to administer the Swine Flu vaccine in schools. That could involve hiring more nurses to give the shots.

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