Despite a shortage of flu shots at Princeton pharmacies last week, supplies are being replenished and nearly 150 people turned out for free flu shots at a free health fair at the former Princeton Hospital site on Witherspoon Street on Sunday.
“Overall, the flu has hit earlier and faster than in past years,” said Dr. Craig Gronczewski, chairman, department of emergency medicine at the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro. “It’s affecting more people and driving volume to the emergency departments.”
The key to combatting flu is preventive care, Gronczewski said. That means generally everyone over 6 months old should be vaccinated, washing hands frequently with soap and water or Purell and staying away from people who are coughing and sneezing. See more information on the flu here.
Rite Aid Pharmacy at the Princeton Shopping Center and CVS Pharmacies on Nassau Street and on Route 206 ran out of the flu shot last week. By late Monday afternoon, the Nassau Street CVS had received additional flu shots. Rite Aid is expecting more flu vaccinations to arrive today, Tuesday.
If you do find yourself getting sick, most flu can be treated at home or through your regular doctor.
However, there are some symptoms that are red flags, and the point at which a patient should consider a trip to the emergency room, Gronczewski said. Those symptoms include shortness of breath, severe dehydration, confusion, and high fever for more than a day.
This year the flu vaccination combats two subtypes of influenza A and one type of influenza B, Gronczewski said.
That includes a form of influenza known as H3N2, the type that is predominantly in our area, he said.
It may be mid-January but it’s not too late to get vaccinated. And don't worry if you’ve heard the flu shot is only 60 percent effective.
“The CDC came out with a report of 62 percent, which means that if you get vaccinated, you have a 62 percent less likelihood of having to seek medical attention for influenza,” Gronczewski said. "That number doesn’t factor in even if you contract influenza, it is suggestive that you’re less likely to have a severe illness. Just because you catch the flu after vaccination, there might still be protections afforded that person, their symptoms may be milder.
“The (flu shot) is still recommended,” Gronczewski said.