Flu mist vaccine shortage should delay immunizations

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — More parents could be faced with having their children receive this year’s flu vaccine through a needle than the less painful and more popular mist.

But whatever method they choose, getting your children, and yourselves, vaccinated is just as important this year as it has been in the past, experts say.

The flu mist vaccine is popular and it’s effective. That means it’s also in demand.

But manufactures are behind when it comes to producing and distributing the vaccine so far this year, according to Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein.

While there are assurances it will be more widely available, that may not be for as much as a month.

That means doctors like Steven Lana of Delaware Pediatrics have to hold off at least a few weeks before offering flu clinics beyond their own patients.

Despite the shortage of the mist, both Lana and Burstein say it’s important to get vaccinated, regardless of the method.

“Our philosophy has always been to immunize as many people as quickly as we can well in advance of when we anticipate peak influenza activity, because after that point, it’s too late,” Lana said. “It’s like draining the swamp after you’re up to your belly button in alligators.”

If you’re forced to get the vaccine via needle, a short amount of pain could save you in the long term.

“One small injection is so much more benign than actually a flu infection, which can be devastating,” Burstein said. “People can be sick for seven to 10 days.”

Patients cannot get sick from the flu vaccine. They may have a stuffy nose if given the mist. If they’re given the injection, their arm may be a little sore, or they could develop a low-grade fever, Lana said. But that just means their body is building the antibodies needed to fight the real thing.

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