The shortage of FluMist is a result of many doctors offices and pharmacists not adequately anticipating the need and ordering too few doses; the manufacturer of FluMist has not run out of supply. FluMist, which is ingested through the nose, is intended for healthy kids age 2 and above who don't want to take the shot. The L.A. County Department of Public Health says the shortage is expected to affect its clinics until at least February.
Dr. Chris Tolcher of Agoura West Valley Pediatrics says many doctors didn't anticipate the overwhelming demand for it this year.
"Flu vaccine orders are placed months before the flu season starts, we usually estimate the amount we order based on our previous use and what we expect to be the need for the next year, but we often do have to re-order during flu shot season," he said.
In the meantime, he says it's crucial that adults and children receive the flu vaccine shot now before the season gets even worse.
"It's a myth that you can get the influenza infection from the vaccine. But you can get side effects from the vaccine, which sometimes people will confuse as [though] they're catching the flu," Tolcher said. "For example, you can get a fever, maybe feel achy and not feel well for a day or two, but you don't get a cough and cold and diarrhea from the flu vaccine."
Across the country, emergency rooms are over flowing. Severe flu has already spread to 41 states, and California could be next. At least 18 kids from around the country have died from flu-like symptoms this year, including a 6-year-old girl from Dallas.
Dr. Tolcher says to call a professional if certain warning signs are encountered.
"Some rules are a very high fever, let's say over 104 or 105, a fever lasting more than three days, a cough that seems severe or constant," he said.
For children who are shot-phobic, parents can ask for a numbing agent that goes on the arm and can help take some of the stinging sensation out of the flu shot.