Archive for Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Flu shots still rare around Lawrence

Pharmacies, health department still hoping for shipments

November 24, 2004


Flu shots may not be an option, but the Hy-Vee Pharmacy on Clinton Parkway is expecting to receive about 150 doses of FluMist, a nasal flu vaccine that also may help prevent against the illness.

"We're hoping to have it in soon," said Hy-Vee pharmacist Pat Hubbell. "We ordered it a couple of weeks ago, and we have about 50 people on a waiting list."

FluMist, which can be used by people ages 5-49, is a viable option this year. The nation's flu shot supply was cut in half in October when British regulators shut down shipments from Chiron Corp., which produced millions of flu shots for the U.S. market. The problem caused the Centers for Disease Control to pull back the vaccine.

But FluMist, like flu shots, should go only to people the CDC consider to be at high risk for complications associated with influenza.

With the exception of the FluMist shipment at Hy-Vee, area pharmacists said they had no flu vaccine in stock.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department has acquired about 170 flu shots through Kansas University's Watkins Student Health Center. Local health department officials also are providing flu shots to high-risk children. To receive a flu shot, the children also must meet federal guidelines, such as being enrolled in Medicaid or HealthWave insurance programs, or be of American Indian or Alaskan Native descent.

But local health department spokeswoman Janelle Martin said more flu shots were expected from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Martin said it's unknown how much vaccine the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department would receive from the state.

"But we requested somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 shots," Martin said.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department officials can give flu shots to children who qualify.The immunization clinics are from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays; 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays; and 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays at the health department, 200 Maine.

She said details of a future flu clinic would be decided once the new shipment of flu vaccine from the state arrives.

Martin suggested people continue calling the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department's clearinghouse phone number, 843-0721, for updates on flu vaccine.

At this point, she said just a few private physicians in town have flu vaccine. No Lawrence pharmacies have flu shots.

"We don't have any, and we haven't had any," said Marvin Bredehoft, owner of Medical Arts Pharmacy. "I'm not sure that any pharmacy in Lawrence does have any."

Bredehoft said he ordered 10 vials of flu vaccine for the pharmacy at 346 Maine. They never arrived. The same goes for Round Corner Pharmacy, 801 Mass.

Round Corner owner Tom Wilcox said he ordered 10 to 15 doses and receives calls about every day asking whether his store has flu vaccine. The answer is "no."

"It's a tragic situation," he said. "Some elderly people will go unvaccinated. I know of one couple who drove to Ottawa and stood for hours to get a shot. They didn't live in the county, but they got them."

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