By Dr. Maria Simbra


PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The demand for flu shots can be unpredictable.

“This year we’re giving out probably more than ever before,” says Dr. Marc Itskowitz, an internist at Allegheny General Hospital.

In his practice, the poor match last year has not been keeping people away.

“We have a lot of patients who demand the flu shot, who want one, who expect to get one,” he says.

The flu vaccine is expected to be 60 percent effective this year. Last year, it was only 20 percent.

“The exact strain we’re seeing in the community so far are the strains that are in the vaccine, so unless something would change, the efficacy should be very good,” Dr. Itskowitz explains.

But does the better match make people more likely to get immunized?

“I’ve never gotten a flu shot, ever. And I’ve never had the flu. So I don’t plan on getting it,” says one woman.

“I always get the flu shot anyway. I got it when it was 20. I’ll still get it when it’s 60,” says one man.

“I’ve got one every year except this year. But now I’ll definitely make sure I get one,” says another.

Nationally, about 40 percent of adults get the flu shot each year, and that may be going up slightly, but not dramatically.

Flu shots are recommended for everyone 6 months and older. The vaccine supply is good. And right now, cases are comparatively low. For instance, last year this time, we had about 300 cases in Allegheny County. But this year, we’ve only had about 30.

“We expect, in the next two to four weeks, the number of cases are going to go up, if you look at historical trends,” Dr. Itskowitz says. “So if you haven’t gotten a flu vaccine yet, and you’re planning on getting one, I would get it this week.”

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Dr. Maria Simbra