Weather Forecast


Officials: Flu shots on the way

WILLMAR -- If you haven't received a flu shot yet, you'll probably have to be patient a little longer.

Local health providers used up most of their initial vaccine supply in September and are still waiting for the rest of their seasonal influenza vaccine to arrive.

At Family Practice Medical Center, the latest word from the manufacturer is that the complete shipment will be here by the end of November.

"They've been in touch with us on a weekly basis," said Stacey Zondervan, patient services director.

The arrival date is less certain at Affiliated Community Medical Centers, said Jo DeBruycker, manager of the Health Learning Center.

"We know the quantity of seasonal influenza vaccine we're going to get. We just don't know when," she said. "Our hope is to just keep communicating."

ACMC received a piece of good news this week, however: All of its FluMist, the inhaled version of the seasonal influenza vaccine, is here. Flu vaccine clinics will be scheduled within the next week or so for people who are eligible to receive FluMist -- namely healthy individuals between ages 2 and 49, DeBruycker said.

ACMC will announce the vaccination clinics sometime next week when the details have been finalized, she said.

There's no word yet on when the new vaccine for the H1N1 novel influenza virus will arrive. Local medical providers and Kandiyohi County Public Health will follow state and federal recommendations that give top priority to health care workers, particularly those who care directly for hospitalized patients, and to individuals who are at greatest risk of getting sick with the swine flu-like virus.

Seasonal influenza and the H1N1 virus, as well as a number of other viruses, are actively circulating in the community right now, local officials said.

The appointment schedule has been busy at Family Practice Medical Center, Zondervan said. "Certainly the numbers are getting up there."

At ACMC's clinic in Willmar, which is a surveillance site for the Minnesota Department of Health's influenza monitoring program, 25 percent of the cultures being taken from patients who come in with influenza-like illness have been positive for the flu virus, DeBruycker said. Seventy percent of these have been the H1N1 virus.

Young people seem to be hit the hardest, DeBruycker said.

ACMC also had its first case of influenza B identified this week through the surveillance program, she said.

"That's why we really want to get the FluMist clinic out there next week," she said. "We're seeing a fair number of people sick in our community."

Zondervan's biggest concern with the delay in receiving the seasonal flu vaccine supply: that people might forget to come in and get immunized.

Although it seems like the wait is long this year, it's not unusual for flu shots to continue being administered in November and December, she said.

"It's really not a lot different from other years," she said. "We started immunizing early this year. I think people need to be reassured there will be vaccine available."

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

(320) 235-1150