Seasonal flu vaccine hard to find, but more arriving in Lawrence

The seasonal flu vaccine has been difficult, if not impossible, to find.

H1N1 clinics

The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department will have two community H1N1 clinics open to all priority groups.

The clinics will be from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday and 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 3. Both clinics will be at the Community Health Facility, 200 Maine. The Health Department encourages children younger than 10 who have received their first dose of the H1N1 vaccine to receive their second booster immunization at the upcoming clinics. A period of one month must have passed between the child’s first and second doses.

Those attending can visit for a consent form to complete and bring to the clinic.

“There had been a greater amount of seasonal flu vaccine available this year than any other previous flu season,” said Mike Heideman, spokesman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

But an increased awareness of influenza, thanks to the H1N1 virus, increased demand.

Heideman said the majority of seasonal flu vaccine is ordered directly from the manufacturer by local health departments, pharmacies and health providers. If providers didn’t get their orders in, they are probably out of luck.

“The manufacturers had to produce two flu vaccines this year instead of one, and since seasonal vaccination efforts were moved forward on the calendar this year in anticipation of pandemic H1N1 vaccination efforts, seasonal vaccine is no longer being produced,” he said. “Clinics who did not file orders early are no longer able to obtain the vaccine.”

If providers pre-booked orders, they still may receive them.

Such was the case with Walgreens’ Take Care Clinics. The Lawrence clinic, 3421 W. Sixth St., was among 355 that received a shipment of about 400 doses on Thursday.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department pre-ordered 2,300 doses and has given 1,760 doses so far. It is awaiting its last shipment of 540 doses from manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur.

Lisa Horn, spokeswoman, said the department provided 2,600 doses in 2008, and they use that to base the next season’s order.

“There are so many more people that are wanting the vaccine, and I think part of that is because of the attention that’s surrounding H1N1. That’s great because we want people to get vaccinated for both, but it’s unfortunate that we don’t have that vaccine to give.”

Donna Cary, a spokeswoman for Sanofi Pasteur, said that everyone who pre-ordered vaccines directly from the company should receive all of their shipments by the end of November.

“They will be getting it,” she said.

Cary said the manufacturer supplied just more than 50 million doses this year — a little more than last year.