Pharmacists at many of the pharmacies in the Sachem community said they were out of flu shots as of Friday, but some said they would be getting another shipment soon.
The CVS stores on Patchogue-Holbrook Road in Holbrook, Hawkins Avenue in Lake Ronkonkoma and Horseblock Road in Farmingville all said they were completely out of the vaccine. The CVS on Portion Road in Ronkonkoma said they were out but hoping to get a minimal shipment by 5 p.m. today.
Only the Rite-Aid on Ronkonkoma Avenue in Ronkonkoma said they have some stock of the vaccine and were currently taking appointments as of 3:00 p.m.
Independent pharmacies Patch spoke to said they don't perform vaccinations and recommended the chain stores.
"Due to high demand caused by the early outbreak of influenza, some of our locations may experience intermittent, temporary shortages of flu vaccine, but we still have vaccine in stock and we resupply our pharmacies and clinics as quickly as possible," Mike DeAngelis, the public relations director for CVS, told Patch.
The flu shot is also often available at primary care physicians and pediatricians offices.
A Long Island expert on infectious diseases Thursday urged parents to get their children and themselves vaccinated now.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 18 children nationally have died of flu so far this year, with cases reported in nearly every state. And the North Shore-LIJ Hospital system, including Huntington Hospital, said Thursday that hospital visits were up 20-30 percent because of the disease.
Dr. Sunil K. Sood said the flu season is considerably worse this year than it has been in several years. “First, it started very early this year, and second, the number of cases has dramatically increased nationwide,” he said. “Third, of the three strains, one, H-3, is associated with a higher death rate.”
This year’s flu vaccine protects against three strains, H-1 and H-3, and a third, Type B. “H-3 gives you a much worse disease,” he said.
Sood, who is director of pediatrics at Southside Hospital and an attending doctor in infectious diseases at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, emphasized the need for children to be protected. And for others to be protected from small disease carriers.
“I’ve been giving really passionate speeches to parents that it is really dangerous not to have vaccinated themselves and their children,” he said. “If you haven’t immunized your child even healthy kids can die. Children are the spreaders and they pass it on to older people as well.”
Those over 65 or with compromised immune systems are among the most vulnerable.
“It’s been recommended that every child over six months and adults get vaccinated but only 45 percent of children got vaccinated last year," Sood said. "That’s really, really sad."
And, he said, too many health workers don’t get vaccinated either, potentially jeopardizing patients.
As far as the timing, Sood said it is not too late. “People say the cat is out of the bag; the answer is: 'No, go get it today.' You still have some time. It takes about a week to start developing immunity, so it’s not too late. There is no shortage this year; every doctor’s office, every supermarket, has the vaccine. etc. There’s no excuse. And we don’t know how the long the season will last.”
Sood is also professor of Pediatrics and Family Medicine, Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.
Associate Regional Editor Pam Robinson contributed to this report.