More flu vaccine coming

Of the 100,000 doses Missouri will receive, 100 will go to Boone County.
Monday, December 13, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:35 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — More than 100,000 new doses of flu vaccine will arrive in Missouri next week, but unless you’re pregnant, sick, still in diapers or collecting Social Security, health officials say there’s not enough to cover you.

Only 100 of the doses are coming to Boone County. Sue Denny, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health, said that’s because Boone County already has more vaccines for its population than other areas of the state.

“(The Columbia/Boone County) Health Department and other agencies worked very hard to get vaccines for themselves earlier on,” Denny said.

The shipments of flu vaccine will ease Missouri’s shortage, but a full remedy has yet to be found. Denny said Missouri clinics and doctor’s offices will begin receiving the vaccine next week.

“We got our allocation last Thursday,” Denny said. “There is going to be a fair amount of vaccine next week, and those at risk should consider looking for clinics and calling their physicians.”

The 100,000 new doses come from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and will bring Missouri’s 2004 total to just under 900,000 — well below the 1.9 million that would be needed to cover all of Missouri’s high-risk residents. Another 30,000 doses are scheduled to arrive in January, and that will be the last shipment to Missouri from the federal government this winter.

“We’re still working on it,” Denny said. “We are definitely better off than we were.”

The flu season has been relatively quiet. The number of cases is down significantly from last year. Forty cases have been reported officially so far, compared with more than 2,000 by this time in 2003. There have been no school closings or other community outbreaks reported.

Denny said the potential remains for a spike in flu cases over the next few months.

“We have had a slow start to the season,” she said. “But it would not be unusual to have a peak in January or even February.”

Because of the potential for a turn for the worse, the department still urges those considered at high risk for flu to get a shot. Pregnant women, those with chronic medical conditions, adults older than 65, children between 6 and 23 months old and health-care workers all are classified as high-risk.

The supply hasn’t grown enough, however, for the state to lift its recommendation against healthy adults getting vaccinations.

The national shortage of flu vaccine was triggered when government regulators in the United Kingdom closed a plant expected to provide a major portion of the U.S. supply. Since then, health officials across the country have been scrambling to fill the gap.

Even though some Missouri clinics might be well stocked, that doesn’t mean doctors will be. A lot of private vaccinations go untracked, and distribution is scattered. That means some local outlets might not receive any of the new shipments, Denny said.

If your physician doesn’t have a supply, Denny suggests seeking other sources of vaccine.

“It’s not easy this year,” Denny said. “People are going to have to find clinics.”

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