Delays plaguing the supply of influenza vaccine for the flu season were resolved last week and
private providers should get their supply soon. In Juneau, one retailer will begin providing the
Delays came because one of the three strains chosen for the vaccine multiplied more slowly than the
other two, and a Marietta, Ga., vaccine manufacturer had to deal with restrictions imposed by the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration before it could produce its product, said Laurel Wood, immunization
program manager with the state's epidemiology office in Anchorage.
Flu Shots Information Epidemiology
Web link for more information about the flu vaccine.
Those delays were "all cleared up last week," Wood said Tuesday.
The World Health Organization and the federal Centers for Disease Control annually choose the three strains, "the ones most likely to be in the United States during flu season," she said. Those strains are first spotted in places such as Moscow, New Caledonia, Sydney and Beijing.
When this season's vaccine supplies arrive, the state Health and Social Services Department will distribute first to its own clinics, then to pioneers' homes and finally to private providers "as our supplies allow," Wood said. Vaccine is beginning to be available "in a spotty fashion" in various places in the state, she said. She expects state supplies to arrive within two weeks.
Because of the delays, vaccine is not yet available in Juneau clinics, said Mary Frances Richmond of the Juneau Public Health Center. However, Richmond said, the Carrs grocery store managed to get vaccine and has posted a schedule of flu shots: 2-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday. Flu shots are $14; pneumonia shots, $10.
Nationally, 74 million doses of flu vaccine will be produced, Wood said. This is significantly fewer than last year's 80 million to 85 million doses, according to a state epidemiology bulletin. The Georgia plant typically produces about one-third of the nation's flu vaccine.
The Department of Epidemiology recommends people most at risk of complications receive flu vaccine They include:
Adults over 65.
Anyone with chronic disorders of the pulmonary or cardiovascular systems, including heart disease and asthma.
Adults and children with diabetes or kidney dysfunction.
Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities.
Pregnant women in the second or third trimester.
Children six months to 18 years receiving long-term aspirin therapy.
People whose immune systems have been compromised by HIV or AIDS.
Physicians, nurses and other people in hospital and outpatient-care settings, including emergency response workers, because they readily can transmit influenza to people at high risk.
Most years, state officials recommend flu shots to anyone who wants to avoid infection. But due to this year's shortage, those at highest risk, and people in close contact with them, should get top priority, officials said.
For more information, see the Epidemiology Web site through Hot Links at juneauempire.com.