Flu Vaccine Shortage

By: Laura Gibbs
By: Laura Gibbs

More than half of our state's 95 local health departments were expecting flu vaccines from a British supplier that was shut down Tuesday, knocking out about half the U.S. supply, but Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Tammy Leonard says it's still too early to tell how Illinois will be affected.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was working with the other manufacturer of the U.S. flu shot supply to alter its distribution so shipments go to parts of the country that need them most. An official at the Illinois Public Health Association says that 52 local health departments had expected the 149,000 doses they ordered in bulk earlier this year from Chiron Corporation to be delivered by Sept. 30.

The beginning of October is typically a time when we get this shot to protect ourselves from a sore throat, fever, and stuffy nose, but this year we will have to resort to our common sense as it may be out best defense.

Mike Bacon with the Winnebago County Health Department urges us to "wash your hands, cover your mouth, particularly in close proximity to other people."

At this time the Winnebago County Health Department only has half the vaccine supply that they planned on.

"We're in the process of looking at what immunization schedule ought to look like. Right now our supply is 17 percent of what it was originally."

At this point, Bacon says not everyone will receive a flu shot. Only people who are "high risk" will be the first and possibly only vaccinated. Already, Winnebago, Stephenson and Boone County health departments have had to postpone and reschedule flu shot clinics.

Julia Marynus with the Stephenson County Health Department said, "Instead of being timely, we will have a big push for the number of clinics per week. We will have to step up to the plate when the vaccine arrives."

The flu season runs December through March with late January and early February being the peak time to get the flu.


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