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Mounting Deaths Prompt Flu Shot Shortage at Some Carlsbad Pharmacies

With at least six flu fatalities in San Diego County this season, local pharmacies are running out of flu shots.

With at least six flu deaths reported in San Diego County this season, pharmacies in Carlsbad are beginning to run out of flu shots.

CVS on Rancho Santa Fe Road has run out of shots but expects more to arrive this week, and the Vons pharmacy on El Camino Real is out as well. Rite Aid on Tamarack Avenue has fewer than 10 left, while the Rite Aid on Avenida Encinas has shots in stock.

A map of locations where flu shots are available can be found online at Healthmap Vaccine.

“Over the last week, there has been a run on flu shots,” said Cal-Med Pharmacist Ken Anzolar. “For the past five years, the trend has fluctuated.”

Last year, there was no shortage of shots, but in years such as the current flu season or in 2009 during the last severe flu outbreak to hit California, the demand rises.

This season’s flu vaccine offers protection against Influenza A H3N2, Pandemic H1N1-like, and Influenza B strains. It is well matched for the viruses that are circulating, according to the county’s Health and Human Services Agency.

Vaccines often cost $20-$30; however, they are often covered by insurance.

Flu shots are an inactivated vaccine made from killed virus, which means it’s impossible to get the flu from the vaccine, according to Dr. Angela Rasmussen, an infectious disease expert.

There are currently three flu shots being produced in the United States: the regular (intramuscular) seasonal flu shot, a high-dose vaccine for people 65 and older, and an intradermal (injected into the skin) vaccine for people ages 18 to 64.

In addition, a nasal-spray flu vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses (which also do not cause the flu) is available to healthy people ages 2 to 49, except pregnant women.

The most common side effect from a flu shot is soreness at the injection site.

Even those who think they don't need a flu shot should get one anyway, according to Jack Cantlin, a pharmacist and the divisional vice president of retail clinical services at Walgreens. It’s possible to contract the virus and carry it without being sick.

The elderly, young children, pregnant women and nursing home residents are at greater risk for serious complications from the flu. People with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and chronic lung disease—as well as those who work with them—are also at risk.

- City News Service contributed to this report.

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