The way Marleen McGuire sees it, there's nothing like a heavy flu season to get people over their reluctance about getting vaccinated.
McGuire is the state practice manager for the Connecticut Minute Clinics, the medical clinics in some CVS pharmacies. nd Ridgefield. Though flu season is just starting to ramp up, McGuire said the clinics have seen a lot of traffic from people wishing to get a flu shot. She attributes the activity to last year's robust flu season, during which there were 11,511 positive reports of the contagious respiratory illness, including 2,228 people hospitalized with the disease and 57 deaths.
"Last year maybe gave people a fair scare," McGuire said. "We're seeing pretty high vaccination rates so far."
Flu is often characterized by body aches, chills, fatigue, runny nose and, in many cases, a high fever of at least 100 degrees. Though most people recover from the flu in a few weeks, some groups of people are at higher risk for serious complications, including death. Those groups include children, pregnant women, those with compromised immune system and those 65 years of age or older.
Though flu season technically began in October, it still hasn't its peak, though reports from the state Department of Public Health show flu cases are rising. According to the department's last flu update, as of Nov. 16 there had been 47 positive flu reports so far this season -- up from 37 the previous week. About 15 people had been hospitalized due to the disease, at least one person has died from the illness so far this year.
But health professionals said the heavy activity hasn't hit yet. The state department of health reports that, though visits to state emergency departments for "fever/flu syndrome" are rising, they still make up less than 5 percent of total visits.
With peak flu time still a few weeks away, there's still plenty of time to get a flu shot -- and, so far, there's plenty of vaccine to go around. McGuire said the CVS clinics has an abundance of vaccine and doesn't see a shortage in the near future.
Elsewhere in the state, those running flu clinics at area health departments said they're in good shape as well though, like McGuire, they report being busy. For example, Andrea Boissevain, health director for the town of Stratford, said the department has given out 500 flu shots so far this season.
Deborah Travers, director of Greenwich's division of family health, said those vaccinations will continue as long as the vaccine lasts. Travers advised that people, particularly those at high risk for flu, should get vaccinated as soon as possible. "You certainly don't want to get sick over the holidays," she said.