The Flu Is Spreading: Now There Are Vaccine Shortages and Offices Are Infested With Germs

January 11, 2013  |  

At this point, everyone knows someone who’s is or has suffered from a bad case of the flu. Boston has declared a health emergency because 700 cases have been reported and 18 people have died. More than 40 other states are also seeing widespread flu infections. Politicians have been all over Twitter telling people to get vaccinated. And the CDC is expected to issue an update today for what is already being called “one of the worst flu seasons in years.” And we’re only at the start of it.

Last year was a light year for flu cases, so this year’s spike has got everyone scrambling (and coughing, and sneezing…).  There are different strains of the flu and, reports TIME, we’re lucky that the vaccines that are available this year match the prevalent strain that’s making everyone sick. The best advice is get vaccinated.

According to Reuters, Sanofi is the largest vaccine provider in the US and they’re already working on next year’s batch (the vaccine is different from year to year). So if you haven’t been vaccinated and would still like to be, it’s not too late, but you might have to do some searching.

For children, there are some shortages as well, but, on top of that, there are also shortages of Tamiflu, the medicine given to children who are already sick. “In the meantime, pharmacists can make a substitute by dissolving Tamiflu capsules in a sweet liquid, according to a spokeswoman for Roche’s Genentech unit, which makes Tamiflu,” the article says. Even with the shortage, Reuters says that Roche, the makers of Tamiflu, will see a business boost as a result of the high demand.

Also, be aware that if you want to make a trip to the hospital, they’re also overwhelmed by the number of patients. Those with loved ones admitted for other reasons may also find visitor restrictions as hospitals take steps to protect patients whose immune systems are weakened.

Even if you take measures to keep from getting sick, you still have to be around other people at work. The workplace can be a virtual petrie dish of germs and sickness. The CDC says, besides the vaccine, lots of hand washing and avoidance are the way to go to protect yourself. “[S]o  if you work in an office, embrace your social anxiety issues and shut the door,” writes Bloomberg Businessweek. If you’re lucky enough to have a job where you can telecommute from home, that’s also an option.

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