No end in sight
The influenza A virus continues to take its toll on
Pediatrician Linda Ammari will see 45 kids today related to viral illnesses, which she says hasn't slowed in the last two weeks.
"Usually after one or two weeks it starts to taper off," Ammari said. "I'm hoping for Monday, but I don't know that we're at the peak yet."
The Public Health Department gave an estimated 771 flu shots Thursday - bringing the season total to almost 7,000 vaccines. That is the most vaccinations in one season that nursing director Nola Wallace has seen in her 30 years at the public health office.
"It is probably because the flu is hitting earlier," Wallace said. "People are more aware of it and looking for more vaccine. There are a number of people that had not had flu shots before that began to realize the consequences."
Wallace doesn't know whether the peak is coming early or won't be seen until February.
"Whether or not we will see a peak in February we don't really know," she said. "We'll have to see what happens after the holidays and see if it continues to rise."
The Center for Disease Control has acquired more vaccine and will be distributing it throughout the country, but Wallace isn't expecting to get very much.
"We were told our state will be getting more but we are such a low population so we won't get very much," she said. "There is literally no more out there for right now."
Wallace said she has an order in for another 100 vaccines for children ages 6 months to 36 months in early January, but nothing is guaranteed.
Even though the public health officials had a record number of vaccines this season, the majority of county residents didn't get vaccinated.
Rumors about mercury in the vaccine and the vaccine causing the flu are a couple of reasons why people don't get vaccinated, Wallace said.
The substance in the vaccine that gets confused for mercury is called Thermosal, which acts as a preservative.
"Although it can be related to mercury, it is not actually mercury," she added. "There is just a minimal amount in the vaccine, so it wouldn't cause any harm."
The myth about the flu vaccine causing the flu is also invalid, Wallace said.
The viruses in the vaccine are not alive, so it wouldn't be possible for them to cause the flu. Wallace guesses that people probably catch the flu before the vaccine can start working.
"They could get the flu right after they shot because they don't have the protection yet," she said. "With all the people we are doing now, they may be exposed to influenza before the shot can help them."
By JEREMY MURPHY