Vaccine supply nearly shot
BY KIM ARCHER World Staff Writer
Friday, October 09, 2009
10/09/09 at 4:27 AM
For information about
Tulsa Health Department flu
shots, click on immunizations.
For information about the
Visiting Nurse Association’s
Check with your individual
doctor’s office to inquire about
the availability of seasonal flu
Related story: 2 more Oklahomans die of swine flu.
Many Oklahoma medical providers have run out of seasonal flu vaccine — less than a month after they began offering the immunizations.
"If we make it to the end of the week, I'd be surprised," said Shannon Robbins, wellness director at the Visiting Nurse Association of Tulsa. The group provides most of the flu shots throughout northeastern Oklahoma, including those through Reasor's Food Stores.
"Demand does seem to be unusually high this year," said Don Blose, immunization chief at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
But he characterized the situation as a supply disruption caused by manufacturers trying to distribute two types of vaccine — the seasonal flu and the H1N1 virus.
"The anticipation is that there will be more doses that make it to market around November," Blose said. "We usually don't see our first case of seasonal flu until November or December."
The predominant flu strain circulating in Oklahoma remains the H1N1 virus, he said.
A small allotment of H1N1, or swine flu, vaccine arrived in Tulsa late last week. That has already been used to vaccinate hospital health-care workers and more than 100 children at Limestone Elementary School in Sand Springs, said Melanie Christian, spokeswoman for the Tulsa Health Department.
More H1N1 vaccine is expected to follow next week, federal health officials have said.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had urged states to offer seasonal flu shots early to provide time between those and the H1N1 flu vaccinations.
"This is one of those fluky things that happen. The supply curve was ahead of itself," Blose said.
Oklahoma, Georgia and Kansas are among the first states reporting seasonal flu vaccine shortages, said Kevin Schweers, spokesman for the National Community Pharmacists Association in Alexandria, Va.
"I think we actually first heard about this from a pharmacy in Midwest City," he said.
In telephone calls to 10 Walgreens pharmacies in the Tulsa area, the Tulsa World found most stores had run out of seasonal flu vaccine. Two stores had a handful of doses left, and the Claremore store still had a small supply, a pharmacy technician said.
The Tulsa Health Department still has a good supply of seasonal flu vaccine, said spokeswoman Melanie Christian.
"This hasn't impacted us. We're on target to give about 35,000 doses as we do each year," she said. The department has been providing seasonal flu shots since Oct. 1. It provides the shots and FluMist free at seven locations.
The Visiting Nurse Association put in its vaccine order for 62,000 doses in February, but received only 58,000. The group began giving flu shots Sept. 15 due to early demand, Robbins said.
Because of the quick drawdown, the group is canceling some corporate clients that were planning to offer the vaccine to employees, she said.
"We have seen a larger turnout this year. We've seen a huge increase in kids coming to our office," Robbins said.
Kim Archer 581-8315