OC health officials confirm 2nd flu death

LA HABRA, Calif.

Last month, health officials reported the flu death of a 51-year-old Fountain Valley man.

The escalating flu epidemic continues to overwhelm doctors and pharmacies across the nation, many of which have run low on flu shots. At the Rite Aid drug store in Azusa, keeping the flu vaccine in stock is a daily struggle. Pharmacist Mona Kim says they've gone from giving 10 shots a day to 20 - and now, even more.

"It's been increased almost double. Some stores did 40 shots yesterday," she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says flu was widespread in 47 states last week, up from 41 states the previous week. The only states without outbreaks are California, Mississippi and Hawaii.

CDC officials predict that the flu season will continue for several more weeks. On average, the flu season tends to last for 12 consecutive weeks.

As for who the vaccine is protecting, the CDC's data shows the vaccine is more effective for younger people, while it tends to be less effective in the elderly and those with certain underlying conditions.

Dr. Stanley Shapiro, the head of infectious diseases at Kaiser Permanente Panorama City, says this year's vaccine is a good match for the strains that are circulating. He, along with state health officials, are urging everyone over the age of six months to get the vaccine if they haven't yet since experts expect the surge of flu activity to continue.

"I am a great proponent of the idea that's it's really never too late," Shapiro said.

If you're a little shot-phobic, you may want to see if the intradermal vaccine is available because it's reportedly less painful. It's recommended for adults 18 to 64.

Pharmacists say if you're thinking of getting the flu shot, get in as soon as possible. The earlier you get it, the better you're protected.

The government reports many of the 130 million doses produced this year have already been given. And many pediatricians locally have run short of FluMist, the nasal spray version.

If you can't get the shot at your doctor, try a pharmacy. Many say their stock is in good shape.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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