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Flu Taking Its Toll, Vaccine in Short Supply

Use the attached comments section to tell others where you received your flu shot.

It's the coughing. The runny nose. The fever. The "I can't get out of bed" feeling.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that high flu activity is still continuing around the country, with influenza vaccines in short supply.

That was the case at several drug stores in Bedford and Katonah Tuesday. 

Bedford Pharmacy on Old Post Road has not had the vaccine in this year, and staff members say they don't see that changing, as orders must be placed several months beforehand.

At the CVS on Bedford Road, folks looking for the shot would have been out of luck if they arrived anytime after about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. That's when the store ran out. Previously, staff members were offering the dosage on a reservation-only system. The business may get the vaccine back in sometime later this week.

Across the area, hospitals and physician offices are working with hundreds of patients. Dr. Joseph Ponticiello, the Emergency Department director at Sound Shore Medical Center in New Rochelle, said Tuesday the hospital is looking at a "flu epidemic."

"We have been inundated with patients with flu and flu-like symptoms," he said.

Ponticiello said 154 people came to the hospital's emergency department Monday. That is a 30 percent increase over the number of people who normally come to the emergency room on a daily basis, he said, adding that it has been that way for the last couple of weeks.

Without hesitation, Ponticiello said, if people haven't already gotten flu shots, they should go ahead and get them.

"It's worth it," he said, "because you don't know what will happen in the next few months."

A report on ABC News said that flu activity is waning but the cold-weather virus could make a comeback.

Ponticiello said his department has tested over 120 people for the flu, with about 30 of those testing positive.

"I'm not sure if we've peaked yet," he said. "This moves across the country from west to east, so in the next week or two we will start to see a decline" in the number of patients.

Ponticiello said there are things one can do to help stave off getting the flu.

"The major thing is, if you are sick, stay home," he said. Other things that can be done include wiping down the phones, remote controls and game consoles—anything people handle.

"A lot of hand washing is a good idea," Ponticiello said.

He said it was a good idea to buy pocketbook-sized hand sanitizer and to use it frequently.

Harry Baumgarten, the supervising pharmacist at Katonah Avenue's Weinstein's Pharmacy—which is not offering the vaccine this year—provided some advice for those folks who have the unforunate luck of having already caught the flu.

"Drink lots of fluids, get lots of rest," he said, adding that he doesn't recommend any cold medications for symptoms, but instead cough remedies, and even then, only if the patient is having trouble sleeping. "If they don't get the sleep, they won't get the rest."

Anyone who wants to get a flu shot can call your primary-care physician, local pharmacy or check the HealthMap Vaccine Finder for locations based on ZIP Code. However, it would be best to call ahead to confirm if the vaccine is in stock.

Pere January 16, 2013 at 02:04 PM
Brewster, NY A&P in-store pharmacy had shots as of Sunday.
MJ January 16, 2013 at 05:01 PM
Call Drug Mart in Millwood. They also give the vaccine to kids under 18 if your doctor faxes over a prescription. They are very nice there.
Lisa Buchman January 16, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Thanks for letting us know! Walgreen's in Ridgefield also has shots on a walk-in basis.
Lisa Buchman January 16, 2013 at 06:51 PM
This just in: http://patch.com/N-fNJf Flu shots via Northern Westchester Hospital.
Ashley Tarr January 16, 2013 at 08:52 PM
County Health Department's website has some helpful resources, too: http://health.westchestergov.com/flu-information.

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