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CNN Today

Flu Shots Ready and Available

Aired December 22, 2000 - 1:34 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: This fall, you will remember just a few weeks ago when we heard a lot of warnings about a flu vaccine shortage. Now, flu season is fully underway, and it's time to see how things are shaping up.

So, for that, CNN medical correspondent Holly Firfer joins us with an update.

Holly, I didn't get the flu show. Even though the surgeon general of the United States told me I should have, and I am wondering if it is too late now?

HOLLY FIRFER, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's not too late, what were you thinking?

CHEN: I know I was crazy.

FIRFER: They were telling high-risk people to go first. But the CDC has updated the flu situation. It's not a shortage, it is not a delay anymore. They have got plenty.

As of December 18th, 62 million vaccines were shipped. They expect 75 million totally. So there is enough for anybody who wants to get their flu shot now. So go ahead, it's not too late. You can get it through the end of January. So, and considering that flu season really peaks from January to March, you could get the flu in March; and if you get it now, it takes two weeks for it to fully take effect, you'll be fine.

CHEN: You know, I talked to a relative in Ohio the other day, who said -- she tried to go by her local community health center, and the line was so long. It's not the shortage anymore, it is partly -- I guess, because everybody thought there would be a shortage -- so they are ran down.

FIRFER: A lot of people waited. They were telling everybody, if you are high risk, if you have a compromised immune system, if you are over the age of 65; if you are going to be pregnant, your second or third trimester during the flu season, you go ahead and get a shot first. So if you are healthy, to wait. So now everybody who has been waiting is finally saying: Ah ha, I can go get it. But still, it is worth waiting in line. You know what it's like to get the flu, and they actually are seeing sporadic activity right now. So flu season is underway, there are some states that are being hit right now. CHEN: And there are people who always say, if I get the vaccine, I am going to get the flu.

FIRFER: No.

CHEN: People always think that.

FIRFER: When they give you the flu season, it's on a dead virus. So you really can't. If you do get the flu, either you have already been exposed to the flu, and that's why you are getting sick; or, if you don't feel so well, sometimes you can have residual symptoms, but it is not the flu. So don't worry about that.

CHEN: All right, Holly Firfer, from the medical unit, we will have to trust you on that.

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