CRESTVIEW — Despite a nationwide flu epidemic, local health care providers say they still have plenty of vaccinations to meet the public’s need.
Local pharmacists and medical professionals recently saw an increase in the number of individuals getting flu shots.
"Over the past couple of weeks, we have been giving around 40 to 50 (shots) a day," Walgreen’s pharmacist Jeremy Saunders said.
"It has slowed down this week," Publix pharmacist Terry Gordon said. "The prior two weeks were like a nightmare."
Health care providers were tasked with meeting increased demand fueled by residents just learning about influenza cases reported across the country.
Florida is among 47 states considered to have widespread cases of the flu, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Recently, vaccination numbers have dwindled. Health insurance should cover the vaccination; out-of-pocket cost is around $25.
Walgreen’s has plenty of the shots available for ages 18 and up, Saunders said, adding a corporate office tracks its supply.
"It's allocated by the number of usage," he said. Once a distributor sees the number of vaccines distributed, the store stocks accordingly.
For now, local supply is meeting the need.
"We have enough to last a couple of weeks at least," Gordon said.
"Both of our locations, (including Fort Walton Beach) have plenty of vaccinations in stock," said Mandy Nesbitt, a medical assistant at Crestview Urgent Care, which administers the shot to ages 4 and up.
Even if the facility ran low, restocking them is no problem, she said.
The Okaloosa County Health Department is giving specialized flu shots for children under 4.
"We actually ran out of flu vaccines," said Sara Vidoni, a public information officer for the health department.
The department was expecting a delivery “very soon,” as of this writing, Vidoni said.
Influenza, the flu, is a viral infection that affects the nose, throat and lungs and is different from the so-called stomach flu that has symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.
The department suggests vaccination, hand washing and avoiding those with the flu to prevent catching it.
The website flushot.healthmap.org features a link to a vaccine finder, which can locate the closest flu shot distributor near a given address or zip code.
Those with the flu should stay home for at least 24 hours after fever symptoms subside, experts say.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.