Archive for Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Physicians anticipate sufficient flu vaccines

August 30, 2000

Sometimes it takes even more than an apple a day to keep the doctor away.

Sometimes it takes influenza vaccinations.

Although recent reports have indicated a shortage in the availability of flu vaccines for the upcoming influenza season, local medical experts predict shots will be available.

Frankie Jackson, administrative assistant of the Leavenworth County Health Department, said flu vaccines probably would arrive later than usual this year.

The Centers for Disease Control has advised us that for major clinics, we should not set them up until we have the vaccine in our hands, Jackson said. And that will probably not be until November.

County usage increases yearly, Jackson said.

Last year we had 2,000 doses and we ran out in a couple of weeks, she said. This year Ive ordered 3,000 doses, so hopefully, this will get us through.

Dr. Deborah Gammill of Tonganoxie Family Care, predicts there will be enough doses of the vaccine to get by.

Weve been told that just pretty much across the board, everybodys going to be getting a little less than they normally would, Gammill said. From what Ive been told, everybody will be getting about two-thirds of what they order. So I think well have enough.

Gammill said first to receive the vaccines will be those who fall into higher risk categories, such as those with lung problems or diabetes, and the elderly. After that, once we have all of them taken care of, well try to offer it to the population at large, she said.

Dr. Philip Stevens, Tonganoxie, has been keeping track of the cause of the shortage, or delay of vaccines.

There are only four factories that make it, Stevens said. Three of them are in the United States and one is in Great Britain.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration suspended manufacture at two of the factories to correct manufacturing flaws.

So full production occurred at only one plant in the United States and at the plant in Great Britain, Stevens said. But as I understand it, all four of the plants are manufacturing the flu vaccine now.

This years vaccine targets three strains of the flu virus, two of which are new this year, Stevens said.

One of the strains has proved to be very slow growing, so it delayed production further, he said.

Stevens, who ordered 500 doses of the vaccine for the coming flu season, said he expects to have the vaccine in hand in November.

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