The question

When will the Public Health Department schedule flu clinics? Is there enough flu vaccine to go around this year?

The question
When will the Public Health Department schedule flu clinics? Is there enough flu vaccine to go around this year?

The answer
According to Kara LeMere, Siskiyou County Public Health Nurse and Immunization Coordinator, this year’s flu vaccine will be administered during regularly scheduled vaccination clinics. They’ll be in Mount Shasta next on Tuesday, Nov. 8, between 9 a.m. and noon at 411 Ski Village Drive. No appointment is required.

There is no shortage of flu vaccine, however, because funding was cut at the state level, Siskiyou County’s allocation of the vaccine was reduced. That’s why there are no community flu clinics scheduled this year, LeMere said.

Over the past two years, flu vaccinations administered by the Public Health Department have dropped by more than half.

“We aren’t sure why the numbers are falling,” LeMere said.

“It’s a very strange flu year, in that all three components of this year’s shot remained the same as the 2010 formula,” LeMere added.

This has only happened eight times since the early 1960s, LeMere said.

But just because the formula is the same as last year and  once again includes the H1N1 virus, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to get a shot this year, said LeMere.

“Over time, an immunization’s effectiveness begins to wane. To stay safe, it’s recommended you get another dose,” she said.

People might be deciding to forgo flu shots because the flu hasn’t been as bad in the past few years, or it could be ‘flu fatigue,’ said LeMere.

“People are tired of hearing about the flu, especially after H1N1 turned out to be milder than we expected.”
It could also be that more people are getting their flu shots from their family physicians or at other locations like Rite Aid or Walmart, LeMere speculated.

Regardless of where you get them, LeMere said flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over six months old.

At the Sept. 27 drive-thru clinic in Yreka, 846 flu shots were administered. Last year, 1,104 were given – nearly 50 percent less than the 2,000 administered in 2009.

The pattern is the same at the Mount Shasta clinic, where 79 flu shots were administered last Tuesday. In 2010, a total of 344 shots were given out during the three Mount Shasta clinics. Before that, those numbers were consistently between 500 and 700.