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Flu shot shortage effects seniors

Nurse Laurel Johansen administers the flu shot to Shirl McArthur and his wife Bessie.

Emery County Seniors, young children and high risk individuals waited in the cold for flu shots on Wedneday. Many began lining up at 6:45 a.m. for a flu shot clinic scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. The Southeastern Utah Health Department had only 100 vaccines to administer and approximately 175 people were in line. It is not known at this time when more vaccine will become available. Terri Wright from the health department said the people were being screened for risk factors before the vaccine would be administered. Risk factors include: Children 6 mo.-23 months of age; adults 65 years of age and older; persons 2 years to 64 years with chronic medical conditions; pulmonary illnesses such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis or asthma; cardiovascular illnesses, such as congestive heart failure; chronic metabolic diseases, including diabetes mellitus, kidney dysfunction, hemoglobinopathies such as sickle cell anemia,; immunosuppression by medication or by HIV; all women who will be pregnant during influenza season; residents of nursing homes and long term care facilities; children 6 months to 18 years of age on long-term aspirin therapy; health care workers with direct patient care; out of home caregivers and household contacts of children less than 6 months of age.

Wright also said the health department will be receiving the live intranasal influenza vaccine which is for healthy people and children ages 5-49 years of age. The live flu mist can cause mild flu like symptoms in the recipient.

Wright said, "Every day we are waiting for more vaccine to arrive, but we don't know if or when we will be getting more. We feel really bad about people standing out in the weather waiting for a shot. If we do get more vaccine we will try to arrange an alternate location to administer the shots."

One of the vaccine manufacturers had their license pulled and hopefully the license will be reinstated in time to begin manufacture of next year's vaccine. It takes approximately one year for the flu vaccine to be manufactured.

The health department will notify the public as vaccine becomes available. But in the interim they encourage everyone to follow some simple steps to prevent the spread of influenza and other illnesses. They recommend you avoid close contact with people who are sick and keep your distance from others when you are sick.

Wash your hands often. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Stay home when you are sick. Use alternative greetings to handshaking during the flu season.

Emery County residents expressed frustration at having to wait in line in the weather. Those standing in line were evaluated and when it looked like they had 100 people who would qualify for the vaccine the rest of the line was notified that there wouldn't be enough vaccine this time and the crowd dispersed.

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