Flu vaccine is scarce

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -  High demand for the seasonal flu vaccine has some southwest Georgia Health Departments already running out. People are heeding the warnings and getting shots early this year.

The Southwest Georgia Health District is ran out of its initial delivery of 15,000 doses. The Colquitt County Health Department gave out it's entire supply in just four days.

Walgreens has been offering flu shots for about two weeks nationwide. So far they've vaccinated more than a million people. That's more shots than they gave all of last flu season.

For Lisa Johnson's family a shot in the arm is worth a pound of cure after her two sets of twins had the flu last year. "It was bad, it was me taking care of four kids with the flu and then I came down with the flu also, it's was bad, that's all I can, it was bad," she said.

Like many families she's heeding the warning to get a flu shot, but that's left the vaccine supply at heath departments down and in some cases out.

"We are seeing low supplies at a lot of our health departments, some are actually out already, for a couple of reasons, but the main reason being we've had such a wonderful response to the messaging we've been putting out," said Brenda Greene, Southwest Georgia Public Health Deputy Director.

Part of the draw and why the supply is dwindling is that for an entire car to be vaccinated it only takes eight minutes.

"It's just simple and easy and it's convenient. Many businesses are offering employees vouchers, paying for the shot if they'll get it in an effort to keep employees on the job," said Johnson.

"There's just a lot of awareness about influenza this year, a lot more than we've seen in the past," said Public Health Nurse Thea Burke.

The good news is while the Southwest Georgia Health District has nearly been through the 15,000 doses of the vaccine its already received, many manufacturers have stepped up production of the vaccine and hope to deliver more vaccine sooner than the expected November deadline.

It's still up in the air how the H1N1 vaccine will be given out.  "Right now we're thinking that we would not be able to offer this again simply because the numbers that we give it to will be different we'll just have to wait and see," said Burke.

Health officials now say they could have the H1-N1 vaccine before they see more doses of the seasonal flu vaccine but don't know how it will be distributed.

Both could be available by the end of October.   While supplies are dwindling, there is still vaccine available.

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