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For the week of October 4 through 10, 2000

Full supply of flu vaccine earmarked for Blaine County

Health department schedules immunization shots ahead of flu season

Flu shot clinics in Hailey and Carey are scheduled from Oct. 17 to Nov. 7.

Express Staff Writer

In the wake of national concerns over shortages in flu vaccine production and delays in delivery, the South Central District Health Department in Twin Falls has released its fall flu vaccination schedule for Blaine County.

The dates this year are about two weeks later than usual, but still early enough, the health department says, for shots to be administered before the flu season hits.

The department says it expects to receive enough vaccine from its Pennsylvania-based supplier, Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, to fulfill the expected demand of 6,500 doses in the eight-county Magic Valley region.

Flu shot clinics in Hailey and Carey are scheduled from Oct. 17 to Nov. 7.

Health department immunization coordinator Linda Chapton-Frazier said in a telephone interview Friday that the scheduled dates should give shot recipients enough time to develop an immunity before the flu season starts in late November or early December. Typically, a person requires about two weeks after receiving a shot to develop immunity, she said.

Healthcare providers have been worried about possible delays and shortages since the four national flu vaccine manufacturers announced they were having trouble producing the Panama strain of the bug in July.

On Thursday, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said public health officials had announced they expect flu vaccine supplies to be approximate to what was distributed last year. But supplies will likely arrive late, the CDC said, probably near the end of October.

That date would make it impossible for the local health department to meet its mid-October schedule. But immunization coordinator Chapton-Frazier said Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, has said it will deliver vaccine to the Magic Valley in early October.

"We’re all just trying to think positive and plan that we’re going to have our vaccine," she said.

In a press release, the CDC states that flu vaccine is the best tool to prevent severe illness and death related to influenza among elderly and chronically ill people in the United States.

The CDC estimates that a total 75 million doses will be available nationally this season, which should meet the expected usual demand.

The shots don’t guarantee a person won’t get the flu, Chapton-Frazier said, but they do guarantee a case of the flu will be less severe than usual.

Otherwise healthy people who get the shot have a 10 percent chance of getting the flu during the flu season, she said. She said she doesn’t know what the chances are for someone not getting the shot.

She said the shot produces no side-effects.

For those covered by Medicare/Medicaid, the shot is free, she said; otherwise, the charge is $10 or less, depending on a person’s income.

For more information, call the South Central District Health Department at (208) 734-5900.


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