No more flu vaccine for adults

Published 6:00 am Thursday, December 18, 2003

The flu season has barely begun, but vaccines to prevent thevirus are already in short supply and officials here don’t expectto receive any more doses for adults.

“We don’t anticipate getting any more adult vaccine, and wedon’t have any now,” said Becky Calcote, coordinating nurse at theHealth Department’s Brookhaven clinic. “We do have about 100 dosesfor children ages 6 through 35 months.”

Clay Hammack, district health officer for this region with theHealth Department, said Lincoln County was a typical case in thedistrict.

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Each clinic in the district is out of the adult vaccine, butpediatric doses are in “adequate” supply, he said.

Lincoln County received 30 doses of the adult vaccine from thestate’s last supply Monday, but it administered those doses by theend of day.

Hammack said there is still plenty of the children’s vaccineavailable in the state and district.

Calcote agreed, saying the local clinic still has about 90 dosesof the pediatric vaccine available.

“I think statewide we’ve given more flu vaccine this year thanin any previous year,” Hammack said. “There’s been more interestthis year.”

Hammack attributed the increased interest to media coverage ofthe national flu outbreak and the early season with a “moreintense” flu variation.

“We’re certainly seeing more (people wanting the vaccine) thanwe did last year,” he said. “Our heaviest months are typicallyJanuary and February for the vaccine, but it did start early. Wehad a heavy November, and we are having a heavy December.”

The nation has used its ready supply of influenza vaccine, butthe federal government is trying to purchase more frominternational companies and other countries, Hammack said.

Even if that is successful, he said, it will be weeks beforemore adult vaccine becomes available.

“We probably won’t have any more until after the first of theyear,” he said.

The approaching holidays are a reason for concern, he added.

“People tend to congregate more during the holidays and there’smore national and international travel, so it gives a goodopportunity for the virus to travel and spread more,” Hammacksaid.

Calcote agreed.

“I think the season is really just beginning. If anyone hasn’tbeen vaccinated, I suggest they do it if they can find anyvaccine.”

Normally not a reportable disease in this state, approximately45 doctor’s offices and emergency rooms are now reporting to theHealth Department about the number of patients they see withflu-like symptoms.

In the three weeks since they began reporting, those officeshave reported that about 17-20 percent of their cases have beenpatients with flu-like symptoms.

Almost 800 people died in Mississippi last year from influenzaand pneumonia, the most common complication of the flu.

Health officials are encouraging adults to use alternativemethods of vaccination.

FluMist, a nasal vaccine, can be used by patients ages 5 to 49and is available at some physicians’ offices. Unlike flu shots,which are made will killed influenza virus, FluMist is madeweakened but live virus.