Short on shots

VNA, schools handle lack of vaccinations

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Due to a nationwide vaccine supply shortage, the Visiting Nurses Association will not hold its annual "Supershot Day," normally held in April.

"We don't have enough vaccines to give," said Susan Bowler, public health team leader at the V.N.A. "The Supershot Day was a time we could make sure people have an opportunity to get kids caught up on vaccines."

Because of the shortage of several vaccines many children beginning school next fall might not have all of the shots normally required, but Bowler said people need not worry.

"What we want parents to know is the schools are aware there is a shortage," Bowler said. "We've been working hard for years to get children up to date but some kids coming into school this year will not have the shots normally required. As soon as it becomes available we will let the public know."

Normally when children begin school they are required to have five doses of the vaccine DTaP, which immunizes children for several sicknesses including whooping cough and tetanus.

The Colorado State Board of Health has temporarily suspended the fourth and fifth shot requirement for DTaP.

Typically the fourth shot is given at 12 months of age while the fifth dose is given between the ages of four and six, said Rosemary Spence, a public health nurse consultant at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

"It's important to get all the doses so when the shortage is over people need to know to get them," Spence said. "Right now we want to make sure children younger than one get the dose they need because that's the age group that could likely get whooping cough."

Bowler agreed that it was good enough vaccines were available for those first DTaP shots.

"The priority is the first shots," she said. "If the supply were critically low we would know."

The state board of health has made several recommendations regarding the prioritizing of the limited vaccine stocks.

"There haven't been changes in the law but schools have been asked to consider students without all of their required shots to be considered 'in process,'" Spence said. "If a child was unable to get the proper vaccine due to the shortage a school could not suspend the student."

Spence said several factors can be attributed to the shortage.

"The shortage can't be attributed to one thing," Spence said. "Some of the shortages have to do with changes in production as a result of changes in FDA requirements.

The changes resulted in a delay in production."

Another factor is one of the companies that made tetanus shots pulled out of the market, she said. Moffat County school nurse Carroll Moore said the schools are not yet concerned about the shortage.

"Most of the kids are still coming in with four DTaP shots," she said. "My main concern would be if a child came in with a real dirty wound, but in that case we would give them the vaccine anyway."

Joan Kleckler, a Moffat County Schools health technician, said no child would be kept out of school.

"Immunizations change all of the time and we always work with parents if there aren't enough vaccines available," she said.

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