President Barack Obama has now declared H1N1 swine flu a national emergency. At the same time, areas of Indiana are experiencing shortages of the flu vaccine . Hand sanitizers, including brands such as Purell, are facing increased demand from consumers – and makers are having a hard time keeping up with that demand. Although there hasn’t been a direct connection made between the demand for hand sanitizers, shortages and the swine flu, there has been a surge in sales since news of the H1NI virus broke and as the number of cases has risen.
I’ve had to go to several stores to find sanitizers, especially the types which are supposed to help protect against the swine flu. Although bleach and other products can also be used to disinfect homes and schools, we’ve always had a container of Purell in our son’s backpack, making it easy for him to clean his hands several times a day.
Swine Flu Emergency and Difficulty in Getting Flu Vaccinations
Just last weekend, my husband went to an Indianapolis Costco to get a flu shot. He was among the last three to get the shot before supplies ran out. I just called that Costco, located at 9010 Michigan Road, Indianapolis location and was told that they didn’t expect any more this season.They weren’t the only ones running low.
Most Walgreens had limited supplies of flu shots and were putting people on a waiting list. I had to keep calling before I could find any supplies of flu vaccines anywhere near our area (and was told I should come in immediately if I wanted a chance of getting a shot or flu nasal spray). After having our own scare with the swine flu this year and with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, I wondered if supplies of the vaccine would hold out.
Indiana Among First to Get Swine Flu Vaccine but How Long will Supplies Last?
Ironically, Indiana was among the first to get the Swine Flu vaccine and is currently still high on the list (number four) of states who’ve received doses. Even so, there is concern about how long supplies will last. The vaccine shortage has caused some counties to delay vaccines and swine flu nasal sprays.
Add a soaring number of flu cases and a shortage of hand sanitizers to the mix and this could add up to major problems in keeping the flu at bay. Having attended a school conference at my son’s school, I witnessed the number of children who were sniffling, coughing and then touching door handles, papers and pencils, potentially spreading swine flu viruses. Hand sanitizers were available but not readily visible and they were kept in special areas.
In Michigan, 194 Schools Closed Due to Flu – and Areas of Indiana Experiencing Alarming Rises in Flu Cases
Over 71,000 students stayed home from 194 Michigan schools as cases of the flu soared in the state. However, the Michigan Department of Community Health didn’t confirm how many of these were swine Flu. Perhaps they are erring on the side of caution and treating all flu cases as swine flu. That was our experience when we took our son to an Indianapolis immediate care center. He was given Cipro and Tamiflu – but never tested for swine flu.
Lists of Michigan school closings can be seen here and a link to updated information and number of cases is also available. We are assuming that President Obama is declaring a swine flu emergency due to the number of students – and others – affected across the country. In Indiana, three people recently died due to the flu and Indiana schools have more students staying home, including 27 Indiana schools with least 20 percent of the students absent.
Personal experience (Costco flu clinic and calls to other flu clinics)
Obama Declares Swine Flu a National emergency, Oct. 24, Reuters here
Hand Sanitizer in Short Supply as Swine Flu Hits, CNN Money, here
194 Michigan Schools Closed Due to Illness, Action News, WXYZ, Oct. 23 here
Hundreds More Get Flu Vaccine, Journal Gazette. Oct 23 here