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Experts Urge Flu Vaccines

Local experts on infectious diseases Thursday urged parents to get their children and themselves vaccinated now as the flu turned into an epidemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that 18 children nationally have died of flu so far this year, with cases reported in nearly every state.

"We have seen a significant rise in the number of people coming into the emergency room this past week," confirmed Dr. Steven Walerstein, executive vice president for medical affairs at Nassau University Medical Center and medical director for the NuHealth System.

Even though the flu season has already begun, Dr. Walerstein says he strongly recommends people get it.

"...especially the elderly, children and people with diabetes, issues with their heart or lung complications."

At the North Shore-LIJ Hospital system, including Huntington Hospital, said Thursday that hospital visits were up 20-30 percent because of the disease.

Dr. Sunil K. Sood said the flu season is considerably worse this year than it has been in several years.

“First, it started very early this year, and second, the number of cases has dramatically increased nationwide,” he said. “Third, of the three strains, one, H-3, is associated with a higher death rate.”

This year’s flu vaccine protects against three strains, H-1 and H-3, and a third, Type B. “H-3 gives you a much worse disease,” he said.

If you're considering getting a flu shot, here are some places Bellmore or Merrick that offer the vaccine (besides your own doctor, of course):

  • CVS (2034 North Jerusalem Road, North Bellmore) As of Friday, they had one left. Another shipment expected next Wednesday.
  • CVS (2291 Merrick Road, Merrick)
  • Rite Aid (2410 Merrick Road in Bellmore)
  • Rite Aid (2784 Sunrise Highway, Bellmore) (Higher dose for seniors only available)
The CVS stores located at 2145 Bellmore Ave. in Bellmore, 2660 Jerusalem Ave. in North Bellmore and in the Merrick Mall Shopping Center in Merrick ran out on Friday. Both store are expecting shipments next week.

"Due to high demand caused by the early outbreak of influenza, some of our locations may experience intermittent, temporary shortages of flu vaccine, but we still have vaccine in stock and we resupply our pharmacies and clinics as quickly as possible," Mike DeAngelis, public relations director for the CVS pharmacy chain, told Patch.

Regional Editor Henry Powderly and Associate Regional Editor Pam Robinson contributed to this report.

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