State health officer says flu vaccine supplies are plentiful

State Health Officer, Dr. Donald Williamson says he is seeing nothing to indicate that Alabama will have more deaths from influenza than in a normal year. Williamson said in 2011, there were 900 deaths from influenza/pneumonia like illnesses. Preliminary numbers do not show anything significantly different for 2012.

Williamson urges anyone who has not yet received this year's flu vaccine to do so now. He says there is an abundant supply at health departments and in the private market. Typically, it takes two weeks to become effective. Williamson confirmed the state has a stockpile of tamiflu, a drug commonly used to treat influenza, if needed. Some states are reporting a shortage of the drug.

Williamson said this year's vaccine appears to be highly compatible with the strains of influenza that are being seen across the state. Influenza typically hits people 65 and over the hardest. Even if an individual has been vaccinated and still comes down with the flu, the case is likely to be milder.