Long-Predicted Flu Shot Delay Being Felt Around the Nation
WebMD News Archive
"There certainly is a big demand and people have been
extremely angry. I don't know if they are going elsewhere [to get a shot] or
giving up," says Carolyn Greene, MPH, immunization program chief for the
Vermont Department of Health. "There's a little bit of good news. The
shipments are picking up, and we don't have flu [cases] confirmed ... We have
to hang on to what little good news we have."
As for when those delays may be over, Greene says, "I have
heard so many dates, so many promises that we just sit and wait. I've been told
the 15th of December. If that is so, I would love it."
They're talking more like the end of this month for delay
resolution in Maryland. "It's about what we expected," says Greg Reed,
program manager for the Maryland Center for Immunization, Baltimore. "I was
hoping it would've been resolved sooner but it's far from my worst-case
scenario." Reed says 99% of the state's long-term care facilities
(primarily nursing homes) have at least partial supplies of vaccines -- enough
to cover patients at highest risk. "However, there's not enough vaccine
floating around at this moment," he adds.
That goes for Kentucky, too.
Health officials there report small quantities coming in to
counties across the state at a time when flu vaccination programs are usually
finishing up. "Nobody has gotten their complete order yet," says state
epidemiologist Glyn Caldwell, MD. "It leaves you concerned because you
don't know what's going to happen, and you really don't have much you can do
about it. We're just hoping we don't have a major outbreak."
And so far, that pattern seems to be holding nationwide. Less
vaccine -- but very little flu.
"We monitor a number of different things," says Michael
Hendry, DSc, chief of the respiratory virus section of the California
Department of Health Services. "In-patient admissions for influenza and
pneumonia, a number of sentinel physicians. We also monitor pharmacy data for
use of antiviral [medications]."
The verdict in the nation's most populous state: 10 confirmed
cases as of the end of November -- what health officials would characterize as
"low-level, sporadic activity."