Flu Shots Late This Year

A substantial number of flu vaccines will reach providers later than usual in Nevada due to problems manufacturing one strain of flu virus.

"Every year, the (Center for Disease Control) determines which strains to include in the vaccine, and this year they're having trouble manufacturing one of those strains," Mary Sassi, state bureau chief for Community Health Services, said. "There is some vaccine available at local hospitals, but because of the nationwide shortage we haven't received our supply."

Officials usually start giving flu vaccinations in the middle of October, giving patients a chance to build resistance to the flu bug early, but that won't be the case this year.

The State Health Division expects to receive its first vaccines, 16 percent of its total shipment, by the end of October. Fifty-eight percent is expected in November, and the final 26 percent should be here by December.

Because of the potential health impact of this delayed availability, the Center for Disease Control and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends immunization of high-risk people first - those 65 or older, nursing home residents, adults and children with chronic pulmonary disorders or any metabolic disease, kidney dysfunction, blood disorders, or anyone that is immunosuppressed.

Children and teenagers receiving long-term aspirin therapy and women in their second or third trimester of pregnancy during the flu season are all considered at higher risk.

Officials will initially target these high risk groups, but they promise vaccine for the general public later on the the flu season, which stretches from November to March.

"As we get more flu vaccine, we'll be offering it to a wider range of the population," Sassi said, noting that the Health Department will be advertising flu clinics as the vaccine becomes available.

According to figures released by the Center for Disease Control, 74 million vaccine doses were distributed throughout the United States last year. Most usually become available to providers by October, and 99 percent are available before December. This year, as many as 18 million doses are expected to be distributed in December.


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