Demand for flu vaccine higher than state's supply

Posted: Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Alaska's demand for flu vaccines - swine and seasonal - is outstripping supply.

The immunization program manager for the state Public Health Division, Laurel Wood, told The Anchorage Daily News more vaccine is on the way, and it's not a crisis situation.

The first 4,200 doses of swine flu vaccine that arrived in Alaska last week were earmarked for a group at high risk of being hospitalized: children ages 2 to 4. Whether there will be enough seasonal flu vaccine remains to be seen, Wood said. She said it's hard to predict how much will be needed.

Since the beginning of May, 103 Alaskans have been hospitalized with influenza and five have died - four from Fairbanks and one from Seward, according to an Oct. 9 report from the state Department of Health and Social Services.

Many more people have fallen ill but didn't need hospital care.

So far, almost all of the cases are swine flu, state epidemiologist Joe McLaughlin said.

"It will definitely keep going up. We know that our peak incidence for influenza infection occurs in the winter months," McLaughlin said.

As long as swine flu vaccine supplies remain tight, the state will continue to target its allocation to priority groups.

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