Flu vaccine interest rises

Published 9:39 pm Thursday, September 17, 2009

It’s a simple step of prevention, and one more and more Suffolk citizens are looking into.

Doctors have recommended that people wanting to defend themselves against the HINI flu virus, otherwise known as the swine flu, should get their flu virus vaccination.

“Vaccination is the single most important step Virginians can take to protect themselves from the H1N1 virus,” said State Health Commissioner Karen Remley said in a Virginia Department of Health press release. “I highly encourage Virginians to take the time to get vaccinated.”

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The swine flu virus vaccination will not be ready until October, but doctors are encouraging citizens to get their seasonal flu vaccine now.

It is a message Suffolk residents seem to take to heart.

Robert Elfinger, a media representative for Walgreens pharmacies, said the locations in Suffolk have seen increases in flu shot vaccinations.

“Yes, all our stores across the board have seen increases,” Elfinger said.

The Western Tidewater Free Clinic will receive its shipment of the regular flu vaccine next week, but people have been anxiously awaiting its arrival for weeks.

“We’re having an increase in inquires about the shot, but we’re not having any increase in patients with flu symptoms,” said Pamela Witt, clinic coordinator.

Witt added that in the wake of the worry of getting swine flu, people are forgetting that thousands of people die each year from the regular, seasonal flu.

“People need to take the steps to prepare themselves from the regular flu, because it can be just as deadly,” Witt said.

Additionally, Witt said, the clinic will serve as a vaccination site for the swine flu vaccine when it is released. According to the VDH release, all of Virginia’s 119 local health departments will serve as public vaccination sites. And the VDH is finalizing vaccination arrangements with more than 2,700 different entities (hospitals, home care organizations and doctor’s offices) that have pre-registered with VDH.