Flu Immunizations on the rise
It's been a banner season for influenza vaccinations.
"I think people are really tuned in to getting immunized," said Tonganoxie physician Philip Stevens. "I think probably a lot of people are going to get caught up on other immunizations."
Last Wednesday, Stevens' office ran out of flu vaccines. But nurse Kelly Gill at the Tonganoxie office of Dr. Deborah Gammill said the practice has about 100 doses remaining. And the Leavenworth County Health Department, which has administered about 450 flu immunizations this fall, plans flu/pneumonia immunization clinics in two weeks.
Stevens said it's possible he will receive additional vaccine.
"We usually get 500 a year," Stevens said. "Last year, we gave 550, and this year, 600. So there's been more interest than usual."
Stevens attributes patients' heightened awareness to concerns about exposure to the anthrax bacteria across the United States.
"You can't immunize against anthrax, but you can against influenza and pneumonia," he said.
And some of his patients' minds are centering on the possibility of an outbreak of smallpox because of bio-terrorism, he said.
"There's a lot of interest in the smallpox immunization," Stevens said. "There's no treatment for that."
The physician said the U.S. government has 15.2 million smallpox doses available now. Those could be diluted and so the number of immunizations could be doubled. The government is beginning to contract for manufacture of another 300 million doses, which would be available in a year, Stevens said.