SOUTH FLORIDA (CBSMiami) – It’s the question every doctor at Community Health of South Florida has been asking this week: “Have you gotten your flu shot?”
The doctors are trying to put the brakes on a flu epidemic sweeping the nation.
“A week ago we were seeing one or two. Now we are seeing, oh, each physician a dozen or ten a day,” Dr. Arnold Oper told CBS4’s David Sutta.
In Miami-Dade, emergency rooms have seen flu cases shoot up six percent this week. Jessica Torres isn’t taking any chances: she brought in her two children Friday. “The most important for me is for her,” Torres explained.
Not everyone is signing up for flu shots, however.
As a senior citizen, Azeez Udin is exactly the person health officials are worried about; seniors and children are most susceptible to the virus.
“Well you have to protect yourself and I do. I eat my vegetables,” Udin explained.
This flu season, 20 people have died nationwide, and the flu season doesn’t end until March. Dr. Lillian Rivera with the Miami-Dade Health Department said her organization is monitoring the virus as it spreads across the nation and the state.
“We do not have deaths in Miami. We do have two in the state of Florida,” Dr. Rivera said.
Community Health estimates about 85 percent of its patients are now taking flu shots, which is far more than the 35 percent that were just a few weeks ago.
“They object because so-and-so took it and they got sick on it, etc. The flu is a dead vaccine. It’s not alive so you can’t get the flu from the vaccine.” Dr. Oper said.
The shot takes up to 14 days before it’s effective. Even then, however, it only works 60% of the time. An added defense is to wash your hands often.
Unlike in years’ past, you won’t have to wait in line for a vaccine.
“The good thing is it’s readily available,” Rivera said. The other good thing: getting the shot is less intimidating than it was even five years ago: instead of a huge shot that goes into the muscle of your arm, it’s now just a tiny little prick.