H1N1 flu cases decline in Bay Area

January 1, 2010 6:40:11 PM PST
H1N1 flu cases maybe on the decline -- that's the word from health officials in Santa Clara and elsewhere in the Bay Area.

Santa Clara County reported that the H1N1 flu peaked in mid-November and cases have since dwindled. However, many are questioning if the health scare is over.

The Center for Disease Control warns that there could be another wave of H1N1 flu hitting between now and springtime. To combat a potential threat, more shipments of the H1N1 flu vaccine are not just going to doctor's offices.

At neighborhood drug stores like Walgreens, signs are up saying the H1N1 vaccine is here. Some shipments came in two days ago.

"I will tell my friends and my relatives that they should go get them if they have kids; it will help," says Della Ng.

For $18 and no wait, anyone can now get the H1N1 flu shot. That is a stark contrast to just weeks ago where across the Bay Area families had to wait hours to get vaccinated by county health departments.

While cases have slowed considerably, health officials report the fear of another wave of flu outbreak is real.

"Because the numbers are dwindling a little, people are becoming a little bit casual about it and I think the important thing to remember is this is still a really dangerous virus," says Kevin McCormack with the California Pacific Medical Center.

At most Safeway stores in Northern California, shipments of up to 300 doses of H1N1 vaccine should arrive next week.

Target says it too is working to make the vaccine available.

Ng's two kids got the H1N1 vaccine in November, but she and her husband were denied because of the shortage.

"We didn't get them ourselves because only they offered it to little kids, but at least they got them, so we felt good they got the shots," says Ng.

Despite the easy access to the vaccine, some say they still will not take advantage of it.

"I am not going to get it. My doctor didn't recommend it for me, so therefore I am personally not going to get it," says Annette Crisman.

One difference with this new supply of vaccine is pharmacies and stores will dole it out on a first come, first served basis. While health officials recommend everyone get vaccinated, they still say it is most critical for those in high risk groups.

"Particularly for pregnant women or young children, or anyone who is around either of those groups really needs to think seriously about getting vaccinated," says McCormack.

Keep in mind supply of the H1N1 vaccine at stores and pharmacies can be limited. One Safeway pharmacist says when a shipment of 200 or 300 doses arrives next week, it may go quickly.