Flu Vaccine Shortage - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/06/04

Flu Vaccine Shortage

Have you gotten a flu shot yet? Chances are, you may be asked to take a pass this year. A flu vaccine shortage has trickled down to the Coastal Empire. British regulators shut down a major flu-shot supplier, cutting a planned 100 million doses of vaccine down to only 54 million.

This time last year, the message was: get out and get vaccinated. This year, it's more like, if you're not the very young or elderly, you need to wait.

Mable and Dewey Doss were at Kroger today, but they didn't go for shopping. They got a free flu vaccine. "We get one every year," said Mable. "We are getting up in the years and we want to be safe."

Mable says the flu-shot shortage made finding a vaccine harder than taking the needle. "I had called my physician and called others, but they weren't getting the shots until November."

The flu vaccine shortage hasn't hurt places like Kroger, who are holding free clinics using leftover vaccines. Public health agencies, however, will have to wait until November first for the vaccine. And even then, not everyone will get a vaccine shot.

In recent years, the Chatham County Health Department has been boasting about expanded vaccinations. The department's Diane Weems says the message this year is much different. They are urging anyone between the ages of five years old and 49, if you are healthy, don't use up a vaccination.

"If you're not in the high-risk age group," she said, "we ask you to defer or forgo an immunization."

Mable says passing up the flu-shot was not an option. "I feel like I can't pass it up," she said. "My doctor advised me to always get it."

There are some basic, common sense things we can do to help stay flu-free. Things like washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough, and if you are sick, stay home from work or school. Don't spread your germs.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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