HUNDREDS LINE UP FOR FLU SHOTS

November 18, 2000 12:00 am
Beth Strahan gets her flu vaccination. ().
Beth Strahan gets her flu vaccination. ().

Nearly 300 people, most of them elderly, lined up at the Curry County Health Center in Brookings Thursday with hopes of getting a shot at a limited supply of flue vaccinations.

A friend of mine had to drive all the way to Medford to get a shot, and she had to stand in a line like this one, said Harbor resident Alice Porter. She was at the Chetco Senior Center at lunch time when someone announced the clinic was giving flu shots at 1 p.m.

We all finished eating and came right over, she said.

The Oregon Center for Disease Prevention and Epidemiology has confirmed that

there is and will continue to be a shortage of influenza vaccine throughout the state and the nation. The good news is that the vaccine will become plentiful in early December.

According to officials at the Oregon Health Division, the shortage is due primarily to the reluctance of A/Panama to flourish in embryonated chicken eggs.

Vaccine deliveries had been delayed until the latter part of November and beyond.

Kathy Wills, County Health Department Immunization Coordinator, said the county received approximately 600 doses Monday afternoon.

The arrival was announced on radio. We held a clinic in Gold Beach on Wednesday and in Brookings on Thursday, she said. We administered approximately 300 doses in Brookings.

The doses were were given to high risk people on a first-come, first-served basis, Wills said.

Wills said the county ordered 4,500 doses from one of two medical companies in the nation that makes them. The county has 3,500 doses still coming.

We dont expect to receive any more until early December, she said.

Early this month Public Health Director Barbara Floyd said waiting until December for a flu shot was not a bad idea.

The vaccine takes effect in about two weeks, which works out because the flu season peaks in January and February, Floyd said.

Those at highest risk for complications of flu include persons 65 or older and residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities. Also at high risk are people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, kidney ailments and blood disorders.

Women in their second or third trimester of pregnancy and children and teenagers receiving long-term aspirin therapy are also in the high risk group for flu complications.

Brookings resident Randy Burns, 72, said he was glad to be getting a shot on Thursday.

I was beginning to worry if we were going to get anything at all, Burns said. At my age, the flu is something you worry about.

The Influenza Vaccine Contingency Guidelines, issued in late September by the state health division, read:

The population aged 50-64 years will be given precedence over younger persons lacking risk of influenza complications. Community assessment of priority groups for immunization and voluntary sharing of available vaccine supplies to protect high-risk individuals is of paramount importance in the face of uncertain vaccine deliveries.

Reporter Scott Graves contributed to this story.