Residents of Calvert County no longer have an excuse when it comes to forgetting their annual flu shot.
Scattered alongside Route 4, bright yellow signs attract the eyes of drivers and simply state: “Prevent Flu Everyone. Get Vaccinated!” At the bottom of the sign is a link to the Calvert County Health Department Web site.
“It’s more for prevention. It’s an easy thing to prevent,” Marsha Sturgis, a staff nurse at Calvert Memorial Hospital, said during a telephone interview with The Bay Net. “When you get the flu, everyone suffers.”
Despite the heavy advertising, the severe vaccine shortages during the 2004-05 flu season are still a recent memory. Many wonder if another shortage could strike again.
“It’s up to the manufacturer,” D-Ann Weller, an employee health nurse practitioner, told The Bay Net. “Because of a manufacturing issue [during the last shortage], a lot of vaccines had to be destroyed.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 36,000 people die each year from influenza, and more than 200,000 are admitted to hospitals for complications from the flu.
Sturgis said that the flu vaccine is available in two different forms, a nasal spray and an injectable vaccine, and warned that while the injectable vaccine is an inactivated flu virus, “the nasal spray is an active flu virus.”
The health department has already held three flu vaccination clinics, and will hold five more. The next clinic will be on Thursday, Oct. 25, at Northern High School from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The fee for the vaccine is $15.