Flu vaccine supply is delayed

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

There is no shortage of flu vaccine this fall, just a delay in shipment of the vaccine to local health departments across Missouri.

The Barry County Health Department has received less than a third of its order so far but will begin offering flu shots to high risk individuals on Monday, Oct. 23.

"Since we don't have our full shipment in yet, we would like to serve our high risk people first," said Kathleen King, director of public health programs at the county health unit. "There's been a delay this year, not a shortage."

According to King, the local health department should receive more vaccine this week and hopes to have their full 3,000 doses by Nov. 1.

"This is not just a Barry County problem," added King. "All across Missouri, health departments are having trouble getting their full shipments of vaccine."

Individuals who are considered "high risk" and will be given first priority for the flu vaccine include adults and children who require regular medical care for illnesses such as heart disease, lung disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney diseases or conditions that interfere with breathing.

"Once more vaccine has been received, those without a high risk condition will be able to receive the seasonal flu vaccine," said King. "Notice will be post in the county newspapers when more vaccine is available."

The vaccine will be available on a walk-in basis at the Cassville location from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and at the Monett location from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Medicare enrollees are reminded to bring their Medicare Part B identification card with them when they get the vaccine so that the health department can bill Medicare for reimbursement.

King also encourages residents to check with their private medical providers to see if the vaccine is available at their offices.

Flu clinics scheduled

Area hospitals will also be offering flu shot clinics in the coming week.

St. John's Hospital-Cassville will be offering flu vaccines to the public on Saturday, Oct. 21. Shots will be available from 8 a.m. to noon at a drive-through clinic in front of the hospital. If there is inclement weather, the clinic will be moved into the hospital's front lobby.

"We will have a good supply of vaccines available, but they will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis," said Karen Caldwell, infection control director. "We are encouraging those who are at high risk to get the vaccine first."

There will be no out-of-pocket expense for Medicare Part B enrollees who bring their cards to the clinic. Others will be charged $15 per vaccine.

Cox Monett Hospital will offer its annual drive-through clinic on Saturday, Oct. 28 from 8 a.m. to noon in the parking lot of the Monett Physician's Building South. The cost is $15 per flu vaccine.

The hospital will also offer a walk-in clinic from 7 to 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 3 at the Med-Surg unit on the hospital's second floor. Medicare Part B and Medicaid will be accepted. A $15 fee will be charged to other individuals.

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