Extra flu shots available Thursday

Published 6:55 pm Wednesday, December 7, 2005

By By Adam Prestridge
Most children are afraid of shots.
As they grow to be adults, they're fears are no longer of the needle, but the thoughts of not getting a shot. At least that's the case with flu shots.
The Escambia County Health Department, which has offices in Atmore and Brewton, began administering dose-after-dose of influenza vaccine the second week of October. Quickly the vaccine supply was depleted and those local residents who didn't receive their shot feared for the worst.
Fortunately, the Alabama Department of Public Health received 20,000 additional doses of the influenza vaccine early this week from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which will be administered at county health departments across the state. Escambia County is no exception.
According to Escambia County Health Department nursing supervisor Vonda Buckhault, the Atmore and Brewton offices each received 100 additional doses of the flu vaccine. Buckhault said people wanting flu shots have contacted both offices.
"We're still receiving quite a few calls," she said. "I guess they've waited until late and are calling to see if we had some vaccine available, which we had until recently. We ran out about a week ago and was out for about a week."
A limited number of private physicians in Alabama also received additional doses of influenza vaccine from distributors in late November, but a list was not provided.
"We are pleased that we can now vaccinate and help protect more people from influenza," state health officer Dr. Donald Williamson said. "In Alabama, influenza usually peaks during the months of January and February, and so it's not too late to be immunized."
According to Escambia County immunization director Dan St. Onge, Alabama first received approximately 150,000 doses of influenza vaccine. Several residents of Atmore benefited from the first distribution.
"We've given well over 1,500 doses just in the Atmore area," Buckhault said. "I don't know how many Brewton's given."
With the additional 20,000 doses, the state has received about 170,000 of the flu vaccine. St. Onge is unsure if the state will receive any more.
"I never say never because every time we turn around we receive more," he said. "We've already received more than what we planned to receive. The CDC stockpiles and if there's no need for it, they tend to give it out of the states instead of letting it go to waste, so there's a possibility later this month or early January. We seem to have plenty in the state, it's making sure the right county health department needs it."
St. Onge believes last year's vaccine shortage has caused for a higher demand of influenza vaccine this year, but he doesn't foresee a shortage.
"Since last year, there seems to be more of an awakening for a flu shot because more people are getting them this year that normally wouldn't," he said.
St. Onge also said he is unaware of any outbreak of the flu this season.
"All I've heard is people saying they feel like they had the flu but not for sure if particular strain we're giving the vaccine for," he added.
The Escambia County Health Department's Brewton office will administer flu shots from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. today, Wednesday, Dec. 7. The Atmore office will be giving shots from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8. No appointment is necessary; walk-ins are welcome.
Shots are free to state residents.

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