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CDC: More flu vaccine on way to Mississippi

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta hasconfirmed that additional flu vaccine soon will be en route to theMississippi Department of Health for statewide distribution.

“I have not heard anything yet, but I anticipate it will besoon. I don’t have an amount or a date,” said Liz Sharlot, publicrelations director for the Mississippi Department of Health.

Lincoln County native Jim Craig, the Health Department’sdirector of home health prevention first mentioned the possibilityof more vaccine becoming available here Tuesday during a massvaccination of adults at the Multi-Use Facility.

A news release from the state office also said additionalvaccines may become available in coming weeks but did not specifyhow those doses would be distributed.

“I am hopeful that Lincoln County will get some more dosesallocated,” Sharlot said. “Any doses we receive will be distributedin the state in the most equitable manner possible.”

It is possible that another mass vaccination will be thepreferred method of distribution but other options do exist. Theymay be limited to home health patients or distributed in anothermanner.

“Any way they are distributed, I believe Lincoln County shouldreceive more doses,” Sharlot said.

Hundreds of at-risk adults gathered at the Multi-Use FacilityTuesday and stood in line for hours, hoping to secure one of the557 flu shots available. The vaccination was part of a statewideeffort. Shots were given at 76 other locations that day, and eachlocation reported overwhelming turnout.

Those considered at high risk include adults 65 or older; peoplewith long-term health problems such as heart disease, kidneydisease, lung disease, metabolic diseases, such as diabetes; blooddiseases or a weakened immune system; women who are pregnant; andanyone who lives with or cares for children younger than six monthsold.

Adult vaccines differ from those administered to children.High-risk doses are made using killed, instead of weakened,viruses.

Normal-risk adults have the option of using an inhaled fluvaccine, MedImmune Inc.’s FluMist, which is available for healthy5- to 49-year-olds and made from live, but weakened, influenzavirus.

A flu treatment called Tamiflu is also available for healthyadults. It can protect against infection if taken daily during anoutbreak.

The shortage of flu vaccine is being felt nationwide. Britishregulators unexpectedly shut down a major flu vaccine supplierweeks ago, citing manufacturing problems at the Chiron Corp.factory in England where roughly 46 million doses, or nearly halfthe U.S. supply, were made.

Health officials are advising people that the shortage is not anemergency. The government has encouraged voluntary rationingbefore.

Craig said there are many things people should already be doingbut that become especially important during flu season to preventthe spread of the virus.

He advised people to avoid close contact with others who aresick, stay home from work or school if they become sick, covertheir noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing,thoroughly washing hands frequently and avoiding touching theireyes, noses or mouths.