Pharmacists at many of the pharmacies near Babylon Village said they were out of flu shots as of Friday at noon.
The CVS location on Great East Neck Road was out of shots as of Friday and did not expect a new shipment until Tuesday. A pharmacist there asked residents to call ahead before coming down.
"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, the public relations director for the pharmacy chain, told Patch.
The two CVS locations on Deer Park Avenue in North Babylon had run out, though a product shipment expected later today could have another supply of the flu shot, which has gone into high demand as the flu season has arrived in the area earlier than usual.
The two West Babylon Stop & Shop pharmacies reported having limited numbers of shots for the elderly or very young, but also asked to call ahead before heading in.
A pharmacist at Babylon Village Pharmaceutical said they did not have any flu shots at their store.
The flu shot is also often available at primary care physicians and pediatricians offices.
A Long Island expert on infectious diseases Thursday urged parents to get their children and themselves vaccinated now.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 18 children nationally have died of flu so far this year, with cases reported in nearly every state. And 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.
Sood, who is director of pediatrics at Southside Hospital and an attending doctor in infectious diseases at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, emphasized the need for children to be protected. And for others to be protected from small disease carriers.
“I’ve been giving really passionate speeches to parents that it is really dangerous not to have vaccinated themselves and their children,” he said. “If you haven’t immunized your child even healthy kids can die. Children are the spreaders and they pass it on to older people as well.”
Those over 65 or with compromised immune systems are among the most vulnerable.
“It’s been recommended that every child over six months and adults get vaccinated but only 45 percent of children got vaccinated last year," Sood said. "That’s really, really sad."
And, he said, too many health workers don’t get vaccinated either, potentially jeopardizing patients.
As far as the timing, Sood said it is not too late. “People say the cat is out of the bag; the answer is: 'No, go get it today.' You still have some time. It takes about a week to start developing immunity, so it’s not too late. There is no shortage this year; every doctor’s office, every supermarket, has the vaccine. etc. There’s no excuse. And we don’t know how the long the season will last.”
Sood is also professor of Pediatrics and Family Medicine, Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.
Associate Regional Editor Pam Robinson contributed to this report.