VNA: No flu vaccine

3,500 doses won't arrive in valley

Susan Bowler learned Tuesday that the flu vaccine order for the Visiting Nurse Association will not arrive in Craig.

Bowler, the public health team leader for the VNA, said the vaccine shortage means that only people at high risk of complications should request the flu shot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the British government's health regulatory agency suspended the license of Chiron Corp., one of three manufactures of flu vaccine for the United States, because of contamination. The rest of the nation's supply -- about 54 million flu shots -- is coming from Aventis Pasteur, the world's leading supplier.

Chiron typically supplies half of the influenza vaccine used in the United States.

"Unfortunately, this is the company we ordered from, along with a whole consortium of other VNA organizations," Bowler said.

Bowler said that unless they could find another source of the vaccine, they would not be offering special vaccination clinics like ones held in the past at Sunset Meadows. She said VNA is working with the state to find other sources of the vaccine.

"We ordered 3,500 vaccines, so that's a serious shortage for the region," she said.

The VNA is recommending that healthy adults delay or skip getting the flu shot this year so public health providers can give priority to those high-risk individuals..

Those on the CDC's high-priority lists are:

n Children ages 6 to 23 months;

n Adults older than 65 and anyone between 2 and 64 years old with chronic medical conditions;

n Women who will be pregnant during the influenza season;

n Residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities;

n Health care workers involved in direct care; and

n Home health care givers and household contacts of children between birth and 6 months old.

Bowler said all the clinics in town have the vaccine, and though they have been asked to follow CDC guidelines, they are not obligated by law to do so. She encouraged residents to check with clinics to determine the clinics' vaccination policies.

"We are asking the public to self-regulate and only get the vaccine if you fit into the high-risk group -- it's for the good of the community," Bowler said.

Public health nurse Liz Brennan said VNA did have a limited number of vaccines supplied by the state for the Vaccine for Children program.

"The VFC program is specifically for children on Medicaid, the uninsured and the underinsured," Brennan said. "Children must fit qualifications."

Anyone with questions about the flu vaccine should call the VNA flu hot line at 824-8233 or contact Susan Bowler.

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