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Seasonal flu vaccine is running low locally

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Grossman

The Blade/Andy Morrison
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Just as the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department is getting more H1N1 vaccine dosages - and expects all high-risk residents wanting them to be inoculated by early December - a local shortage of seasonal flu shots is causing concern.

Dr. David Grossman, health commissioner, said private practices, including his own, are running low on seasonal flu shots, as are pharmacies. The shortage apparently has been caused by vaccine manufacturers focusing on H1N1 dosages and more people getting seasonal flu shots this year and earlier, he said.

"It's really become more of a concern," Dr. Grossman said yesterday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 114 million to 115 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine will be available this season.

That is 4 million to 5 million more than last flu season, but after vaccine production delays, distribution will continue into November, said Kristopher Weiss, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health.

Other areas statewide have shortages of seasonal flu vaccine, which mostly is administered by doctors' offices, pharmacies, and other private providers, Mr. Weiss said.

"There is still vaccine being made," Mr. Weiss said. "We would encourage people to continue to seek it out and get it when they can."

Some local doctors' offices have waiting lists for the seasonal flu vaccine. Rite Aid recommends those seeking the seasonal flu vaccine go to www.riteaid.com to find local stores administering immunizations and then calling to see if they have a supply or waiting list, said Cheryl Slavinsky, company spokesman.

"We continue to get some, but we do have spot shortages," Ms. Slavinsky said. "It's just been a peculiar situation this year."

She added: "It's really a tough situation for a lot of people."

The Wood County Health Department is temporarily out of the seasonal flu vaccine and may not get more until December, it said. The Fulton County Health Department also is out of seasonal flu vaccine, while the Ottawa County Health Department only has seasonal flu mist vaccine for children, they said.

The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, which only received 1,500 seasonal flu vaccine dosages this season, has targeted its limited supply to indigent residents, Dr. Grossman said.

The health department, meanwhile, will administer so-called swine flu vaccines from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today to pregnant women and children at its office, 635 North Erie St., Toledo.

Tomorrow, the health department will hold an H1N1 clinic for high-risk individuals - including pregnant women, those aged 6 months to 24 years, health-care workers, and those aged 25 to 64 with chronic health conditions - from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Zablocki Senior Center, 3015 Lagrange St., Toledo. Its next H1N1 clinic for those high-risk groups will be from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday at St. Luke's Hospital auditorium, Maumee.

Eventually, people who are not in high-risk groups will be able to get H1N1 vaccine shots, Dr. Grossman said. "We have not met the high-priority needs yet."

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:

jmckinnon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6087.

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