Despite shipping delays, Gwinnett has plenty of vaccines to go around

LAWRENCEVILLE - Cold weather has finally returned to Gwinnett County, leading many residents to begin thinking about getting their flu shots.

And although some places in the county experienced delays in vaccine shipment, Gwinnett Health Departments and local drugstores have their supply and are prepared to start vaccinating.

Christine Pearson, spokeswoman for the CDC in Atlanta, said even though some offices and clinics haven't received their vaccines due to shipping delays from some companies, the CDC has been in constant contact with vaccine manufacturers and there will be plenty of doses.

"Over 77 million doses of the vaccine have already gone out - close to the highest amount that has ever been available in the United States," Pearson added.

Though flu season doesn't start until February or later, Pearson said those at the CDC are recommending people get their vaccinations if they have not already.

She said although Georgia has only had sporadic outbreaks of the flu throughout the state, vaccination will reduce outbreaks and spreading the virus.

Vernon Goins, spokesman for the East Metro Health District, said local health departments have a good stock of the vaccine.

He added that because the departments order vaccines from companies outside the United States, and there were shipping delays, they received some doses later than expected.

"The companies produced a lot of doses, but they couldn't get it to us," Goins said.

As of now he said the departments have received the vaccines and have already started offering the vaccine to patients for $25.

Goins said Gwinnett County has a flu outbreak every year, stressing it is important for people to get vaccinated.

"About 3,000 people in Gwinnett County are expected to get sick with the flu this year," he said.

In addition to the Health Department, Walgreens drugstores are also ready to offer shots for those in Gwinnett County.

The store, which recently opened an in-store health clinic run by RediClinic, is offering shots with no appointment needed.

Reshma Desai, Walgreens pharmacy intern, said the health clinic inside the 181 South Clayton St. store in Lawrenceville will offer the vaccines until Dec. 31.

She added the clinic has plenty of doses to go around.

"The shots are offered throughout the week and they are $15," Desai said.

Who should get it?

Both Goins and Pearson said those at high risk, including young children six months and older, those with chronic diseases, adults over 50, pregnant women and those who work with small children or the elderly, should make sure they are vaccinated.

Although it is recommended that most people have the vaccine, some should wait or use a different method other than the inoculation.

Those who are sick with a fever should abstain from being vaccinated until their symptoms lessen, said Pearson.

She added it is recommended that those who have an allergy to chicken eggs or have had a reaction to the vaccine in the past should refrain from having the shot or try the nasal spray, recommended for healthy patients ages 5 to 49 who are not pregnant.

Does it work?

Every year flu vaccine producing companies, such as Chiron and Glaxo Smith Kline, work to make sure the vaccine contains the proper strains of the virus that will fight against the three most common strains of flu for that year.

Pearson said the strains of flu change with every new year.

"The flu virus is constantly changing, that's why we recommended people get vaccinated every year," she said.

As far as the effectiveness of being vaccinated, Pearson said the vaccine is very effective in reducing the possibility of contracting the virus.

"It's about 70 to 90 percent effective in preventing the flu," she said.

Although it's rare, some could contract the virus after being vaccinated. But Pearson said if someone does contract the virus, it would most likely be a milder case than if not having the vaccine.

The CDC suggests anyone with symptoms of the virus, such as fever, body aches, tiredness, headache and runny nose, see their doctor immediately for treatment.