Limited amount of flu shots available

Published 1:12 pm Thursday, November 9, 2006

By By Janet Little Cooper
The phone lines at the Escambia County Health Department are lighting up like an early Christmas tree as hundreds of Atmore residents call in search of the much-anticipated flu shot.
Alabama health departments from Monroe to Escambia County are still awaiting their first shipment of the influenza vaccine.
"We know that we will be getting the vaccine," Elaine Reaves, a RN in the immunization department of the health department said, "Although we do not have a certain date of arrival we are hoping to have the vaccines by the end of November. We have been told that there is not a shortage of the vaccine this year. The delay is due to undisclosed factors associated with distribution of the shots from the producers."
Reaves wants residents to know that they still have plenty of time to get the shot before the flu bug hits the area.
"A lot of people think that they have to have the shot on the first day of November," Reaves said. "But people need to understand that they still have time. The flu season usually peaks in February and the vaccine takes effect within two weeks after receiving it."
According to Reaves the vaccine should protect patients through the flu season and in some cases up until a year. She is encouraging residents to read the newspaper and watch the news for the announcement of the vaccines arrival.
"We will advertise as soon as the shots become available," Reaves said. "Patients are safe to get the vaccine as late as December."
Annette Hall from the Escambia County Health Department was convinced that if the voting polls offered free flu shots the county would have experienced a 100 percent voters turnout due to the massive log of calls she is fielding daily in the Atmore office.
"We are getting a lot of phone calls, mainly from senior citizens and parents of children with asthma," Hall said. "If we could have offered shots to voters Tuesday, I feel certain there would have been a 100 percent voter turnout."
While the county health department is still waiting for their first shipment of the hot commodity, several local doctors are administering the flu shots to their patients based on the most critical in need of the vaccine.
" In our first shipment we got 100 doses for three-year-olds and up and 50 doses of the preservative free for infants six months and younger," Madeline Smith, a nurse for Dr. Cynthia Worrell-White of Atmore Family Medicine said. "These shots are for our patients only. We have more ordered, but have been told by the distributor, GIV, not to count on it. We got our vaccines later than usual and have not received a clear-cut reason as to why the shots were delayed. They are telling us that there is no shortage however."
Dr. White has treated one child with flu in her Atmore office. According to Smith the child had been out of town where the bug was picked up.
Local doctors are reserving shots for their most critical patients ranging from children to senior adults. Patients are encouraged to check with their family physician to see if they qualify for a shot while supplies last.

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