You’ve already heard just how bad the flu is this year. If you haven’t gotten your flu shot just yet, you’ve probably thought about getting one.
“General symptoms we’ve seen this year: generalized body aches, upper airway congestion, drainage, sore throat, cough, and generally, most people have a fever,” explained Dr. Eugene Alexander at ProMed at Cooper Clinic.
The good news? You can still get a vaccine. There are several locations in both the River Valley and Northwest Arkansas that have flu shots available. However, doctors and pharmacists are struggling to keep up with the demand.
“People just decided they weren’t going to get the flu shot because it hadn’t spread a lot,” said Sheila Schuster, a pharmacist at National Family Pharmacy. “So they just decided they were going to try to make it through. And now with the flu, I mean we’re filling every 2 or 3 scripts with Tamiflu.”
National Family Pharmacy in Fort Smith said they’ve been out of the vaccine for three days now. Schuster said they’re not expecting to get any more of the vaccine for this flu season.
“We get lots of phone calls,” Schuster said. “Every other caller’s asking for the flu shot.”
In Northwest Arkansas, health officials are also working to meet the high demand according to Loy Bailey, with the Benton County Health Unit.
“What we’re working hard to continuously do, day-to-day, is monitor statewide our departmental inventory and make sure it goes where it’s needed the most,” Bailey said in response to the latest flu statistics.
So where can you get the flu shot?
You’re best bet is going to be at your doctor’s office. Another option is Walgreens. Several locations in the viewing area say they do have flu shots available for anyone 7 and older.
“We’ve had a high influx of people all of the sudden wanting to get the flu shot,” said Ricardo Acosta, the head pharmacist at Walgreens in Van Buren. “Everything’s been in the news but we do have the flu shot in stock.”
The flu season is expected to last through February. If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, doctors say it’s still worth getting.
“In fact it is worth getting because if you’ve had the vaccine then when or if you do get the flu, when that happens oftentimes it’s a shorter course or less severe,” explained Rebecca Fleck, the Chief Medical Officer at Cooper Clinic.
Cooper Clinic is another place in the River Valley still offering flu shots. You can get the shot there 7 days a week at any of their Pro Med locations.
Sparks Health System is also reopening its walk-in flu shot clinic in response to the flu outbreak. Influenza and pneumonia vaccines will be available beginning Monday, Jan. 14 at the Vaccination Station in the Sparks Medical Plaza at 1504 Dodson Avenue in Fort Smith. A registered nurse will dispense the vaccines Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Flu vaccines cost $25 and pneumonia vaccines cost $90.82. Insurances, except Medicaid, will be accepted, as well. For more information, call (479) 573-7925 or visit www.SparksHealth.com.