Flu shots absent from River Region

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 25, 2004


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – There currently isn’t a flu shot to be found in St. John Parish, according to Carrie Fisk, marketing director at River Parishes Hospital.

The national shortage of the vaccine used for inoculation was caused by the decision of the British government to severely curtail shipments to the United States, Fisk explained.

On October 5, the Center for Diseases Control was notified by Chiron Corporation (located in the United Kingdom,) that none of its influenza vaccine would be available for distribution. This decision reduces the amount of expected supply of trivalent inactivated vaccine (flu shot) to half of the shipment to the United States for the 2004-05 flu season.

“This is a national concern, not just in the River Parishes. The supply is just not there to meet the demand,” said Fisk.

For the past 10 days, Fisk has been receiving an average of 20 calls per day regarding the shortage. “Most of them are from families whose members are consider at-risk,” she said.

At-risk persons are identified as priority groups for the flu vaccine. Those are: all children aged 6-23 months; adults aged 65 years and older; persons aged 2-64 with underlying chronic medical conditions; all women who will be pregnant during the flu season; residents of nursing home and long-term care facilities; children aged 6 mos. to 18 years that are on chronic aspirin therapy; and out-of-home caregivers and household contact of children under six months old.

River Parishes Hospital always places their order for the flu vaccine in a timely manner, according to Fisk. It’s been about a year since that order went out and the hospital’s vendor coordinated the amounts due to be delivered.

Vendors that distribute the annual orders usually use more than one supplier, so even though the Chiron Corporation is failing to send the product, many other suppliers are still in operation.

But exactly how much flu vaccine will be sent, and exactly who it will be sent to is yet to be determined.

“We don’t know the amount of vaccine involved, or which health facility would be receiving it,” said Fisk. “We really don’t have any more information at this time.”

To those many callers Fisk has spoken to in the past week, she suggested that they call their physician if they need more information.

She added that River Parishes Hospital will issue a press release as soon as they receive more details on the flu vaccine situation.

Cut your chances

to get the flu

€ Use good hand hygiene. Wash hands frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand disinfectant;

€ Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough;

€ Avoid hands or objects touched by infected people;

€ Stay home if you are sick, and avoid those who are sick; and

€ Relax and try to reduce stress.

Research has shown that stress can influence vulnerability to infection. Get plenty of rest and take time to unwind.