Flu season begins with high number of cases

Author: Christina Lusby
Published: Updated:
MGN Online

FORT MYERS, Fla.- Flu season has started earlier in Southwest Florida and it’s claiming more patients than this time last year.

The increase in cases is leaving some pharmacies fresh out of flu fighting medications. The federal government has also placed Florida under a flu alert.

“We have a few capsules remaining, we have sold out today,” said Richard Lawrence, owner of a prescription shop. “I have a couple left out of an open package and that’s what is left for today.”

The antiviral Tamiflu is disappearing off pharmacy shelves.

If you look at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) map, Florida is one of 14 states riddled with flu cases.

“This year the flu season has arrived earlier than normal. We saw higher numbers of people with confirmed cases of the flu,” said Diane Holmes with the Health Department of Lee County.

Health officials confirm the flu vaccine is only 48 percent effective this year.

“The flu virus itself has drifted slightly making the vaccine a little bit less effective,” said Holmes.

To add to this flu season, the CDC says most people in Florida don’t get a flu shot. The state administers the least amount of shots in the nation.

“They need to get the flu vaccine because it is still our best line of defense, and about 50 percent of the time if you get it, and already had the flu shot, it will reduce the severity of it,” said Holmes.

If you are still unlucky enough to catch the flu, pharmacies are busy hoping to stock back up.

“We try to stay ahead of it the best we can,” said Lawrence.

Lee County’s health department says the current number of flu cases is what they typically see in January or February.

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