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Flu vaccine clinics revived

| October 13, 2004 12:00 AM

Flu vaccine clinics sponsored by the Lincoln County Health Nurse are back on schedule following a brief moratorium when it was learned that only 50 percent of the vaccine would be available in the U.S. this year.

However, the vaccine will only be available locally for people falling within the high-risk health criteria recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, said county health nurse Carol Spas.

As counties and local medical practitioners began scheduling or giving flu shots last week, it was learned that half of the U.S. flu vaccine supply would not be available. It prompted action by the federal agency and state health officials to halt flu vaccine clinics and evaluate supplies on hand.

Spas had just announced four clinics scheduled during the next month in the Libby-Troy area when government officials put the breaks on the medical service.

It was then determined that adequate supplies existed to serve the people most at risk, Spas said.

The vaccine will be available for people 65 years and older, people living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, people with chronic heart or lung conditions, people with metabolic disease, kidney disease or a weakened immune system, children 6 months to 18 years old who are on long-term aspirin therapy, women who are or will be pregnant and all children 6-23 months.

³We will announce when and if we can open it up for other people,² Spas said.

The County Health Department has scheduled flu and pneumonia clinics in October and November beginning Wednesday, Oct. 13. Clinics, their location and times are:

• Wednesday, Oct. 13, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Libby Senior Citizen Center;

• Wednesday, Oct. 20, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Libby Senior Citizen Center;

• Wednesday, Oct. 27, from 1-4 p.m. at Troy Senior Citizen Center;

• Wednesday, Nov. 10, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Libby Senior citizen Center;

• Wednesday, Nov. 17, from 1-4 p.m. at Troy Senior Citizen Center.

All of the clinics are walk-in. No appointments are necessary. The health nurse bills Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance.

Flu and pneumonia shots will be given by appointment at the office at 418 Main in Libby. Call 293-2660 for an appointment.

On Oct. 5, CDC was notified by Chiron Corporation that none of its influenza vaccine (Fluvirin) would be available for distribution in the United States for the 2004-05 influenza season. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the United Kingdom, where Chiron¹s Fluvirin vaccine is produced, has suspended the company¹s license to manufacture the vaccine in its Liverpool facility for 3 months, preventing any release of this vaccine for this influenza season.

According to a news release from the MHRA, the suspension was imposed as a result of Chiron¹s failure to comply with the requirements of Good Manufacturing Practice, leading to concerns of possible microbial contamination of product.

This will reduce by one half the expected supply of flu shot available in the U.S. for the 2004-05 influenza season, said officials at the CDC.

The remaining supply of influenza vaccine that is expected to be available in the United States this season is nearly 54 million doses of Fluzone, (inactivated flu shot) manufactured by Aventis Pasteur Inc. Of these doses, approximately 30 million doses already have been distributed. In addition, approximately 1.1 million doses of live attenuated influenza vaccine manufactured by MedImmnune will be available this season.