Widespread flu keeping local health departments, pharmacies on alert

NEW HAVEN --  As of Jan. 27, Nearly 1,200 patients had been hospitalized with confirmed cases of the flu in Connecticut and 52 of them have died.

Among those experiencing the strain: local health departments and pharmacies who are dealing with this flurry of flu the best they can.

Most of them said they are making certain employees take the necessary precautions in terms of sanitizing their hands and their work areas. They are also asking those who are sick to wear a mask before entering their buildings.

Tamiflu, the prescription medication that doctors prescribe patients, to treat or prevent the flu, has been running low nationwide, but, it's all about planning, pharmacists say.

“Luckily, we have been able to purchase quite a bit of it,” said pharmacist Greg Hancock, the owner of Hancock’s Pharmacy in Meriden and New Haven. “We deal with seven or eight wholesalers and we’re picking it up when we can.”

“This is the busiest flu season that I can recall since being in business since 1978,” said pharmacist Gerry Acampora, owner of North Haven Pharmacy.

Healthcare providers, said they are certainly trying to help one another.

“We are getting pharmacies and hospitals calling and we are filling what we can,” said Hancock.

North Haven Pharmacy has offered the flu shot for the last several years

“Last year, we dispensed 120 flu shots,” Acampora said. “I think this year we’re up to about 250 flu shots.”

That number is in line with a trend at local health departments.

“We’ve administered to probably about 150, 200 more people just in the last week or so,” said Rita Foster, RN for the East Shore Health District. “People are a little bit nervous when they call on the phone if they can’t make the clinic they want to come in for an appointment which we do that.”

Other than washing hands, and avoiding somebody who's sick, she suggests “fist bumping, elbow bumping and try to avoid the handshaking, which we all like to do.”

With the flu season stretching into at least April, local health departments want to stress it’s not too late to get your flu shot.

“Working with our partners, again, the department of public health, we are able to offer the flu vaccine free of charge if you don’t have insurance,” said
Michael Pascucilla, Health Director, for the East Shore Health District.

They are conducting their next flu shot clinic this Saturday, February 10, from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m., at the North Branford fire department EMS Headquarters, at 1315 Middletown Avenue in Northford.

Pascucilla said it is more important than ever that "we are able to provide residents along the shoreline as many opportunities to receive the flu vaccine."

  • Vaccinations will be provided by Connecticut State licensed nurses.
  • Vaccinations are FREE with or without insurance.
  • We ask that residents with insurance, however, please have your insurance card with you or make a copy for us when you come to the clinic.
  • Children younger than 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent.

Other important steps you can take to fight the flu this season:

  • Wash your hands and when soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Take anti-viral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

For more information, call 203-481-4233