Running Out! Flu Vaccine Shortage Across Nation

12-5-03 - After three deaths locally connected to the flu, there is disturbing news tonight. The two companies that make the flu vaccine say they've run out.

Local county health departments say they've either run out of their supply is critically low. Health Departments in Atoka, Bryan, Choctaw, Coal, Johnston, Marshall, Pontotoc, and Pushmataha counties are all out of the vaccine. Love county expects to run out on Tuesday while Carter County has a week's supply.

Grayson County reports that they have enough vaccine to get through next week. The two US companies who make the vaccine, Chiron and Aventis Pasteur, say they won't be able to meet a surge in the demand. The surge is the result of signs that this flu season will be a severe one. The companies could make more vaccine but that would take four months.

Local experts say you're best bet is to check with your physician to see if they still have the vaccine in stock.

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Influenza Vaccine

  • Much of the illness and death caused by influenza can be prevented by annual influenza vaccination.

  • Influenza vaccine is specifically recommended for people who are at high risk for developing serious complications as a result of influenza infection.

  • These high-risk groups are:
    • All people age 65 and older.
    • People of any age with chronic diseases of the heart, lungs or kidneys, diabetes, immunosuppression, or severe forms of anemia.
    • Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities housing patients of any age.
    • Women who will be more then three months pregnant during influenza season.
    • Children and teenagers who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who may therefore be at risk for developing Reye syndrome after an influenza virus infection.

  • Overall vaccine effectiveness varies from year to year, depending upon the degree of similarity between the influenza virus strains included in the vaccine and the strain or strains that circulate during the influenza season.

  • Influenza vaccine produced in the United States cannot cause influenza.

  • The only type of influenza vaccine that has been licensed in the United States is made from killed influenza viruses, which cannot cause infection.

When to receive the influenza vaccine

  • In the United States, influenza usually occurs from about November until April, with activity peaking between late December and early March.

  • The optimal time for vaccination of persons at high risk for influenza-related medical complications is during October through November.

  • It takes about 1 to 2 weeks after vaccination for antibody against influenza to develop and provide protection.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/fluvac.htm ( The Center for Disease Control Vaccine Information Web site)


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