Public Health

Seasonal Flu Vaccinations Cancelled Amid Shortages

So you got the message and want to get flu vaccine for your family. That might be easier said than done—especially for the regular old seasonal flu.

Young boy gets vaccinated i

Finding a shot against seasonal flu may be a challenge right now. hide caption

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Young boy gets vaccinated

Finding a shot against seasonal flu may be a challenge right now.

Shortages of seasonal flu vaccine and a preponderance of the new H1N1 virus are leading to the cancellation of some vaccination drives for run-of-the-mill influenza, as we just found out in our own backyard.

The health department in Montgomery County, Maryland, told parents that it's halting school-wide seasonal flu vaccination until further notice.

How come? For starters, 99 percent of the flu in Maryland right now is H1N1. There's also not enough of the FluMist nasal-spray vaccine for seasonal flu to go around. Finally, the H1N1 vaccine is coming sooner than expected, so the county wants to focus on that threat.

The same problems are cropping up elsewhere. Out in Colorado, nearly 450 flu clinics have been scratched because of shortages of seasonal flu vaccine, the Denver Post reports.

In Iowa's Polk County, home to Des Moines, the health department has suspended its flu vaccine clinics while it waits for more vaccine to arrive. That probably won't happen until sometime next month.

NPR's Richard Knox tells us that while it's true the new H1N1 is still the cause of the vast majority of flu right now, there's no guarantee the seasonal strain won't pop up as a problem later on.

Shortages of seasonal flu vaccine should be temporary, too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday there should be plenty of that vaccine to go around, with 50 million doses of vaccine already distributed, much more than is typical this time of year. But demand for the vaccine has also been much higher than usual.

This morning Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was making the rounds of the news shows, urging people to get the swine flu vaccine just as soon they can. It's safe, she said, and for children, who are at high risk for infection, it's especially important.

The first batches of H1N1 nasal vaccines have started to arrive, with the injected version expected to be available in the next week.



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