Rise in flu cases poses challenges to vaccine providers


Jason Fu

Carle Foundation Hospital is located on Park Street in Urbana.

By Grace Maloney, Staff Writer

A nationwide delay in high dose vaccinations caused Carle Foundation Hospital to start flu clinics one to two weeks later than usual. Aaron Seidlitz, corporate communications partner at Carle, said the hospital just finished a walk-in flu clinic this past weekend. 

“It took the CDC a little bit longer to determine which strains would go into the high dose shots, which in turn delayed the manufacturers,” Seidlitz said.

The last flu clinic for Carle was on Tuesday. Right before that, the hospital administered 14,700 flu vaccines.

In an article from the Chicago Tribune, medical experts said there are indicators of a harsh upcoming flu season, “reminiscent of the deadly influenza that spread two years ago.” Doctors are now warning of a severe season.

Seidlitz said Carle is fairly consistent in the number of flu vaccines they administer every year. Last year’s total was around 15,000 vaccines.

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Megan Berry, nurse practitioner from OSF Urgent Care, said OSF got its vaccinations on time.

“There was no delay for us,” Berry said. “We got the flu vaccine right away.”

Berry said patients can get a flu shot when they come into urgent care for cold symptoms, minor sprains, strains or something along the same level. They can also set up an appointment or simply walk in.

“The most common (for patients) is probably walking in,” Berry said. “It’s most convenient.”

However, Berry said some surrounding pharmacies as well as the OSF Hospital and OSF Primary Care had run out of the flu shots at one point.

“A lot of people were coming in saying ‘Oh, I tried to go here, but they were out so they sent me here,’” Berry said. 

However, she said this is not necessarily uncommon for flu season. It has also happened during some flu seasons in the past.

McKinley Health Center is also supporting students and trying to keep many healthy through their free flu vaccinations. It gives on average about 11,500 flu vaccines each year, Woodward said.

“Last year was an all-time high of 13,189. We have given over 12,000 already this year,” said Robert Woodward, medical director at McKinley Health Center, in an email.

Although the outreach flu vaccine stations are done for the year, students are still able to receive the vaccines from the Immunization and Travel Clinic at McKinley Center, Woodward said. 

Tao Zhou, a graduate student in Business, said she got a flu shot at the outreach stand in the Undergraduate Library.

“It was an easy process and short line,” Zhou said. “This is my first year (getting vaccinated for influenza) because it’s my first year at the school. Now next year, I will also get the flu shot as well.”

Though doctors and experts are calling for a bad flu season, Berry said they have not seen many flu patients in Urgent Care. She said they are still prepared with the typical testing and treatment that they have available. 

“It’s the same flu, different season, different amounts of people we see. Just depends on the vaccine,” Berry said.

However, she said there has been more traffic than normal in the urgent cares more recently of people getting their flu shots.

“Get your flu shot,” Berry said. “It does take a couple weeks (to take effect), so if you’re exposed to the flu in the meantime, it’s not because the flu shot gave you the flu. It’s because you were already exposed and not fully protected.”

Berry said there’s always the chance you can still get the flu with the flu shot, but your chances are less likely and the severity could also be lessened with having had the flu shot. She said that people will occasionally get a slightly elevated temperature for a short period, but it doesn’t last long.

“And then you’re protecting everyone else around you, which is important,” she said.

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