With flu season at its peak, there are still plenty of places around the county to get a flu shot.
Last week, the Rockland County Department of Health put out a note warning residents that flu season hit early and getting vaccinated is a first step people should take in protecting themselves from the virus.
“Flu is widespread through the entire state, so we definitely have flu in our county,” said E. Oscar Alleyne, the county’s director of epidemiology and public health planning. “The current status is our facilities have all seen flu-like activity or the flu.”
Alleyne added that the department believes hospitals have moved to respiratory precautions, possibly including have people wear masks and/or separating those who haven’t been vaccinated.
“We’re trying to stop it from spreading,” he said.
He added they haven’t seen a shortage of the vaccine in the county, although private pharmacies might have run out. Alleyne said the department is facilitating constant communication throughout the county to make sure if somewhere has run out of the vaccination, they know where to try and get more or who to reach out to.
While Alleyne said it’s hard to predict how long the flu season will last, he did also note that it started a bit early this year, but nothing too extreme in terms of time.
“It did seem to occur much earlier than what’s normal for flu as a whole, but it’s not unusual for us to see a great number of flu cases in January or December, historically,” he said. “Last year was a mild season. It seems to be a bit earlier, but what we have to rely upon in our county is we have longstanding adult and youth immunization coalition. They have been discussing and trying to make influenza vaccine available since September of last year in preparation for flu season. We’re trying to widen our net and make sure individuals had access to vaccine.”
Another way the county is doing that is through a flu vaccine clinic this Friday at Department of Health in Pomona. The clinic runs from 1-4 p.m. and costs $25 for residents ages 9-59 and those 60 and older get it for free. The clinic will be at Exhibition Hall of Building A at 50 Sanatorium Road. To make an appointment for a vaccination call (845) 364-2519 between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
In terms of local pharmacies, plenty still had flu shots as of Tuesday afternoon, with others expecting shipments of more shot this week.
In New City, Clarkstown Pharmacy owner Andrew Barrett said they still have flu shots, and got in a shipment of 30 more on Tuesday. While he has another location in West Nyack, he said they’re only offering the shot at the New City pharmacy. Barrett said he’s had more customers than ever before come in for a flu shot this year.
“They’re scared this year,” he said. “It’s a bad flu. I also still have some of the Tamiflu liquid. Our wholesaler gets it in by drips and drips and only lets you buy a little at a time, so we have some of that too.”
Also in New City, the CVS ran out of the shot, but is hopeful they’ll get a new shipment in next week.
Similarly, the CVS in Pearl River ran out Monday night, but is hopeful they’ll get a new shipment in sometime this wek.
NeighboRX Pharmacy, also in Pearl River, had run out of the shot, but got more in Tuesday late afternoon. Sarah Fratto, owner of the pharmacy, said she’s had a lot of customers come in asking for the flu shot. Also, because of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s statewide public emergency declaration, pharmacies can administer the flu shot to children, which is not normally the case, so Fratto said she’s had families stopping in as well.
Fratto said nearby doctors’ offices have also called to see if they had flu shots as well. Fratto’s pharmacy opened last October, so this is her first flu season at this location, and she said it’s drawn in a lot of new customers, many of whom have talked about long lines and hectic situations at some of the bigger chains.
Fratto added she’s hoping to get more shots this week as well.
“It’s been hard to get, for independent pharmacies especially, but we’re getting a new shipment in today and hopefully even more after that,” she said.
Over in Nanuet, Pathmark still has flu shots, but is only administering them to people over 18-years-old.
In Nyack, McManus Pharmacy doesn’t normally administer flu shots, so they don’t have any vaccine. Koblins Pharmacy has flu shot clinics twice during the year and that’s it, so they don’t have either. Drug World is administering flu shots each Tuesday this month from 12-2 p.m.