Doctors and nurses across Hawaii are administering flu shots this week in hopes of limiting the broader outbreak already seen on the mainland.
Kaiser Hawaii alone expects to top 65,000 flu shots this week, the HMO said Tuesday.
The federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta report that most states have widespread outbreaks, with more localized outbreaks in California and Mississippi, and only sporadic cases so far reported in Hawaii.
Thousands of Americans have been hospitalized with flu over the past three and a half months, half of them seniors, and at least two children have died of flu on the mainland since Dec. 30, CDC said.
The flu vaccine is made from flu virus that has been cooked for half an hour so that it cannot reproduce. Vaccine recipients can have a low-grade fever for a day or two if their immune system is especially healthy – the purpose of the vaccine is to trigger an immune response – but it is not possible to actually catch the flu from flu virus.
Kaiser nurse Kimberly O'Quinn, in an appearance Tuesday on HawaiiNewsNow, said shots are not given before a patient fills out a checklist to make sure the vaccine is not given to someone who has a relevant allergy, and Kaiser also has care instructions that spell out who should not have the vaccine, including anyone with a severe allergy to chicken eggs, who has had a severe reaction to flu vaccine in the past, who has developed Guillain-Barre syndrome within six weeks of getting flu vaccine in the past, or who is currently sick with a fever.
The shot is also not recommended for children younger than six months of age.