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100,000 more flu vaccines to Missouri: Still not enough.

December 10, 2004
By: Ben Welsh
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - More than 100,000 extra flu vaccines will be coming to Missouri next week. But unless you're pregnant, sick, still in diapers or collecting social security, health officials still say there's not enough for you.

New shipments of flu vaccines entering Missouri in the coming week will ease the state's shortage on shots, but a full remedy has yet to be found, a spokeswoman for the state department of health said Friday.

Spokeswoman Sue Denny said that Missouri clinics and doctor's offices will begin receiving over 100,000 new vaccines next week.

"We got out allocation last Thursday," Denny said. "There is going to be a fair amount of vaccine next week and those at risk should consider looking for clinics and calling their physicians."

Despite the new shipment, the shortage still remains an issue. The 100,000 new doses coming from the national Center for Disease Control will bring Missouri's 2004 total to just under 900,000 -- well below the 1.9 million that would be necessary to cover all of Missouri's high-risk citizens. Another 30,000 are scheduled to arrive in January, the last of what Missouri will receive from the federal government this winter.

"We're still working on it," Denny said. "We are definitely better off than we were."

So far this flu season has been quiet. The numbers have been down significantly from last year -- an unusually bad winter.

Only 40 cases have been official reported so far, compared to more than 2,000 reported by this time in 2003, and there have been zero school closings or other community outbreaks reported.

However, Denny said the potential remains for a spike in flu contractions if the next several months.

"We have had a slow start to the season," Denny said. "But it would not be unusual to have a peak in January, or even February."

Because of the potential for a turn for the worse, the department still urges considered high at risk for influenza seek out a shot. Pregnant women, those with a chronic medical condition, adults over 65, all children between 6-23 months and health care workers are all classified as high-risk.

The supply hasn't grown enough, however, for the state to lift it's recommendation against healthy adults getting vaccinations.

The national shortage of vaccinations was triggered when government regulators in the United Kingdom closed a plant expected to provide a major portion of the US supply. Since then, health officials across the country have been scrambling to fill the gap.

Even though some Missouri clinics may be well stocked doesn't mean your doctor will be in supply.

A lot of private vaccinations go untracked and distribution is widely scattered so some local outlets may not be receiving any of the new shipment at all, Denny said.

If your personal physician doesn't have a supply, Denny suggests seeking out other places where a vaccination may be found.

"It's not easy this year." Denny said. "People are going to have to find clinics."