Flu cases increase amidst shortage of vaccine


by Adam Walser


Posted on January 10, 2013 at 7:57 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 10 at 8:01 PM

(WHAS11) -- As the local flu outbreak continues to grow, some parents are finding it difficult to find the vaccine for their youngsters at the doctor’s office.

Kosair and other area hospitals are seeing huge increases in the volume of admissions for flu-like illnesses.

Baptist East and St. Mary and Elizabeth Hospitals have had to divert some patients from their emergency departments because of the rash of illness.

We have learned that along with this outbreak has come a run on vaccines used to protect some of the most vulnerable members of the population.

At an indoor playground at the Chick-fil-A in St. Matthews, it may seem like another carefree day of fun for the kids on hand. But if you look closely, you'll see a whole lot of cleaning going on.

The restaurant is taking extra precautions by frequently wiping down equipment and offering hand sanitizer in the midst of an early influenza outbreak that has sent thousands of people to emergency rooms nationwide.

Belinda Herzig's husband was one of the victims.

“In 20 years, I've never seen him so sick. So we decided our nine-year-old should have her flu shot," Herzig said.

But getting a flu shot this late in the game can be tricky for some. Dr. Katherine Abbott says the volume of sick patients pouring into her office has nearly tripled over the past few weeks, yet she's not able to get flu vaccines for children three to five-years-old.

“For us being smaller, it's much harder to get than if you're buying in bulk,” Abbott said. “Also, there were two manufacturers that actually ran out this year.”

The Little Clinic at the Hubbards Lane Kroger has been filled with plenty of patients who can't get the flu vaccine from their family doctor.

“If we've been low on it, we've been reordering supplies and we've been able to get it,” nurse practitioner Alicia Razzino said. “We're probably one of the few places that still has supplies. We've had people call just trying to find it.”

As the flu reaches near epidemic proportions in other states and the number of cases continue to grow in Kentucky, health care workers say the most important thing people can do is get the vaccine.

Supplies are available at the health department, pharmacies and most urgent care centers in the area.

“It's probably the worst in at least 10 years. Maybe even a little bit more,” Dr. Abbott said.