MESA, Ariz. -- The flu epidemic has overwhelmed doctors’ offices and pharmacies across the country. On Monday, the Mesa Fire Department held a free flu shot clinic that had to turn people away when too many showed up to get one of the 550 doses Mesa had on hand.
“At first I was a little nervous but once it happened it was kind of a relief because now I know I'm safe,” said Ramie Vasquez, who was at the flu shot clinic with her mother.
Getting a flu shot can save you from catching the flu virus that's already killed nearly two dozen children across the United States this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I have a weakened immune system and I really do need to get my shot and I don't have insurance at the moment, so this was wonderful,” said Nancy Parmley, who added that her son works in the health care industry in New Mexico and had been pushing her to get the flu vaccine.
This year’s flu outbreak has hit the U.S. hard and the CDC said it’s now an epidemic. While the Valley has been spared the worst of it, there has been a run on the flu vaccine, making it sometimes hard to find.
“My wife and I had checked Walgreens, CVS and some of the different drug stores around this area and they were all out and they weren't sure when they were going to get [flu shots] back,” said Lance Gardner, who received a dose of the vaccine at the clinic.
"We've also been hearing that pediatricians offices are not carrying the flu vaccine or they're out at this point," said Larissa Dvorak with the Mesa Fire Department, who helped run the free flu shot giveaway held at Mesa High School. "We did have some flu vaccine available so we wanted to make it available to the public.”
Experts say this year’s flu vaccine is 62 percent effective, meaning that roughly 4 out of every 10 people who get vaccinated can still get sick. Doctors recommend diligent hand washing as the best way to prevent the flu. They also say to stay home if you do get sick in order to keep from spreading flu to co-workers.