Flu clinics close due to lack of vaccine
Nevada County and local Longs Drug Stores have suspended flu-prevention clinics until a vaccine supply can be found.
County, state and national health officials Wednesday started the scramble to replace California’s public flu vaccine drought. Counties are asking the private sector to begin filling the gap for the state’s flu vaccine supply that was lost when the English government shut down manufacturer Chiron Corp.
“It’s a lot of work just trying to get a handle on how much (vaccine) is in the county,” said Cheryl Montague, Nevada County’s Director of Nursing for the Community Health Department. “There’s more questions than answers.”
Montague rescinded a schedule of clinics for this month and next in the county, and Longs Drug Stores at Brunswick Basin and Higgins Corner did the same.
Montague and Norma Arceo of the California Department of Health Services both said people at risk should be seeking the vaccine from doctors, clinics and services locally. People 2 to 64 years old and in good health are being asked to skip the vaccine this year by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help others.
Arceo said the state is working with the CDC and alternate flu vaccine supplier Aventis Pasteur Inc. to plug the gap. The CDC said Aventis has shipped 30 million doses to the U.S. so far, with another 24 million coming.
A CDC stockpile helped fill a smaller shortage last year, Arceo said.
“There will be some vaccine, but we’re recommending at-risk individuals get it first.”
“We have suspended our flu shot clinics,” said Phyllis Proffer of Longs Drug Stores in Walnut Creek. The clinics are administered by companies who now cannot get the vaccine, Proffer said.
“As we know more, we’ll post more on our Web site, http://www.longs.com,” Proffer said. She said until then, those with a prescription for an inhaler flu vaccine can get it with a doctor’s prescription. But the CDC said only about one million of those units are available nationwide.
The National Network for Immunization’s director, Dr. Martin Meyers, said the problems merely expose the fragility of the nation’s immunization industry and process.
Chiron Corp. was expected to deliver half the nation’s flu vaccine stockpile this year.
British health officials notified Chiron executives overnight Tuesday that the company could not ship some 48 million flu shots from its Liverpool factory because of sterility concerns. Chiron said it has not shipped any of its Fluvirin vaccine and no recall was necessary.
Those who should get the vaccine:
• All children six to 23 months.
• Anyone 65 or older.
• Anyone who is pregnant, in a nursing home, a health care worker, a day care employee working with children under six months, or suffering from a chronic condition.
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