Vaccine used up, so flu shot clinics postponed

November 27, 2001

Vaccine used up, so flu shot clinics postponed


A shortage of flu vaccine has forced the Washington County Health Department to postpone its remaining scheduled influenza vaccination clinics until sometime in December, when make-up clinics will be held, County Health Officer William Christoffel said Monday.


The flu shot clinics scheduled for today, Thursday and Tuesday, Dec. 4, won't be held because the Health Department has run out of the vaccine.

Exactly when and where the flu shot clinics will be held will be determined after additional doses of the vaccine arrive, Christoffel said.


The Health Department was supposed to receive 6,000 doses by Nov. 17 and another 2,000 this Friday, Christoffel said.

So far, however, it has received only enough doses to administer 4,000 vaccinations, including about 1,900 during a Nov. 17 clinic at South Hagerstown High School, and another 680 at a Nov. 20 clinic at the Boonsboro American Legion.

The Health Department's first flu clinic, which was scheduled for Nov. 7, also was canceled because enough of the vaccine had not come in by then.

Christoffel said the vaccine has been late to arrive this year because the company from which the Health Department buys the vaccine is three to six weeks behind schedule.

A spokesman for the flu vaccine provider, Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories in Radnor, Pa., has said the company had a problem with a slow-growing strain of the virus.

Flu vaccinations are recommended for those over age 62, people with immune system disorders, asthma, those who are pregnant and those who work in nursing homes or hospitals, said Christoffel.

In general, flu season runs from January through March, and peaks in February. Some people get the flu in December, he said.

"As long as we get the clinics in by the first part of December I'm OK with that. After that it becomes a real concern," Christoffel said Monday.

He said if the next flu clinic isn't held until late December, some people planning to attend the clinics might not get the shot in time to ward off the flu.

Those who do not want to wait for the clinics to be rescheduled can check with their physicians to see if they have the vaccine available.

The vaccine doesn't make people immune to the illness, but makes it less likely they will come down with the flu.

The flu vaccine cannot cause the flu because it is made from a dead virus, Christoffel said.

Christoffel had been concerned that a flu outbreak could cause people to worry they had contracted anthrax, because the symptoms are similar.

On Monday, Christoffel said he wasn't very worried about the possible confusion because it seems people's concern over contracting anthrax has waned.

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