Flu shots still available

Thursday, January 11, 2007
Licensed practical nurse Charlotte Griffin, left, and Carla Powell, both employees of the Scott County Health Department, waited from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Wednesday to give out flu shots, but nobody showed up. (Diane L. Wilson)

A container filled with influenza vaccinations sat on a table inside the First Assembly of God Church in Scott City on Wednesday.

Scott County Health Department registered nurse Jeanne Stalker arrived at the church at 9 a.m. for the county's weekly community outreach clinic. Stalker was on hand to administer flu vaccines throughout the day to anyone in the community.

By 3 p.m., the clinic was over for the day. The number of flu shots Stalker had when she arrived was the same as when she left -- no one came to the clinic for vaccine.

Flu shots were hard to come by a couple of years ago. Doses of the vaccination were gone almost as soon as they arrived at health departments. The first available shots were rationed out to the elderly and children, who are at a higher risk for catching the flu.

But this year, the demand for the flu shot has been slow at local health departments.

About 500 doses are still available at the Scott County Health Department. The county expected to give 3,000 shots but is about 600 shy of that number, said Kay Griffin, a nurse practitioner at the health department.

"It seems as if there's a shortage, everyone wants it," she said. "When we have plenty, there doesn't seem to be as big of a demand."

The Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center had a handful of the vaccine Monday. The county received 4,000 flu vaccines in October -- about 500 more than last year.

Carol Jordan, a registered nurse at the health department, hasn't seen a demand for the shot either. "I'm not really sure why that is," she said. "It may have something to do with a relatively mild flu season last year."

Registered nurse Jeanne Stalker of the Scott County Health Department waited to give flu shots.

Health officials warn the peak flu season hasn't hit yet, and anyone who's at high risk should get vaccinated. Although it's best to be vaccinated in October or November, local health officials say it's not too late since the flu season peaks in February or March.

"There's still time to get vaccinated," Griffin said. "Once you get into February, then it's getting too late." The vaccination takes at least two weeks for a person to reach peak immunity, which lasts about six months.

jfreeze@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 246


Who should be vaccinated?

* People 65 years of age and older

* Residents of long-term care facilities housing people with chronic medical conditions

* People who have long-term health problems such as heart, kidney and lung disease

* People with certain muscle or nerve disorders

* People with a weakened immune system

* People 6 months to 18 years of age on long-term aspirin treatment

* Women who will be pregnant during influenza season

* All children age 6 months to 5 years of age

Source: Centers for Disease Control

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