Demand, delays affecting supply of flu vaccine
WILLMAR -- Procrastinators don't have much time left to get vaccinated against influenza this winter. No cases of the flu virus have been confirmed yet in Minnesota. The flu vaccine supply at Affiliated Community Medical Centers will soon run out...
WILLMAR -- Procrastinators don't have much time left to get vaccinated against influenza this winter.
No cases of the flu virus have been confirmed yet in Minnesota.
The flu vaccine supply at Affiliated Community Medical Centers will soon run out, however, clinic officials said Friday.
Family Practice Medical Center also has seen some delays in receiving vaccine shipments.
Affiliated's last batch of the vaccine arrived a couple of weeks ago, said Dr. Robert Kaiser, medical director for the multispecialty regional medical group.
He said it's expected to be enough to meet patient demand -- but predicted the vaccine will soon be gone.
"I'm guessing we'll be out in a week or 10 days. People had better make their move," he said.
Affiliated has given more than 19,000 doses of flu vaccine this fall at its 11 regional medical clinics.
Local health officials follow federally recommended guidelines to administer the first doses of flu vaccine to those deemed at most risk of severe illness or flu-related complications. These include the elderly, pregnant women, very young children and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes. Flu shots became available to the general public Oct. 24.
Nationally, about 71 million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed so far. There have been scattered shortages around the country -- a situation that should improve later this month with the delivery of another 10 million new doses of vaccine.
Officials at Family Practice Medical Center could not be reached Friday. The family practice group has had to postpone at least one workplace flu shot clinic, however, because of delays in receiving enough vaccine. Family Practice Medical Center usually administers about 2,200 doses of the vaccine each year.
Kaiser said patient demand for flu shots appears to be up this year because of fears about bird flu. "It has heightened awareness," he said.
Affiliated has no plans to obtain more vaccine, he said. That might change, though, if demand remains high, he said. "If that happens, we will certainly take a look at that."