MOUNT VERNON — After just seven seasonal flu shot clinics, the Knox County Health Department has exhausted its supply of seasonal flu vaccine — circumstances are as bad, if not worse, in surrounding counties but there is no shortage of vaccine according to the Centers for Disease Control.
About 114 million doses of seasonal vaccine were on target for production this year, according to Amanda Aldridge, spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control.
“There is no shortage of vaccine,” said Aldridge. “About 85 million has been shipped out.”
Five different manufacturers produce both seasonal and H1N1 vaccines. At this point, she said, they all have their own schedule as to when they produce seasonal and when they switch to H1N1.
“They set up their own schedule for distribution. More than likely, some are producing seasonal and others are producing H1N1,” she said.
The CDC recommends local agencies use a formula based on population, the number of doses available and local history to determine how many doses of the vaccine should be ordered.
The Knox County Health Department, according to Pam Palm, public information officer, ordered 1,800 adult doses in 2007, 2,100 doses in 2008 and 2,250 in 2009.
“Last year there was not any adult vaccines left over,” Palm said. “We still had some in December. Some years we have it through January. It usually doesn’t go out this fast,” Palm said of the public’s intensity for seasonal flu shots this year.
Even if area residents have to wait for a second round of vaccines to be distributed, Aldridge said there is nothing to worry about.
“It’s still early in the season, traditional shipments were shipped out early in preparation for H1N1,” Aldridge said. “Peak flu season isn’t until January or February so there will be plenty of vaccine for anyone who wants it.”
The Richland County Health Department distributed its final doses during a clinic Monday night and attributes the demand to heightened awareness through the media.
“There has been a lot of publicity about flu in general this year,” said Selby Dorgan, public information officer for Richland County Health Department.
Morrow County continues to wait for “a few” seasonal vaccines but doesn’t anticipate doses anytime soon.
“Whatever we get will come from the Ohio Department of Health,” said Rita Barton, public information officer for the Morrow County Health Department. “There won’t be much, so we do recommend residents look elsewhere for vaccination.”
Barton said even health department staff members were encouraged to seek the vaccine through a doctor’s office or a retail pharmacy.
The lack of levy funding has left Morrow County in the lurch for vaccines and at the mercy of the Ohio Department of Health.
“We have no money. It’s that simple,” Barton said. “We are not as fortunate as Knox County.”
The department, however, does have H1N1 vaccines in stock and conducted a clinic for pregnant women Thursday.
As of Thursday morning, the Licking County Health Department had over 300 doses but was preparing for a clinic. Health Commissioner Joe Ebel said his office ordered vaccines directly from the manufacturer, as well as the Ohio Department of Health, but has yet to receive it all.
“I don’t think the number of people wanting the vaccine is up, our number is down only because we have received only half of our order,” Ebel said.
The Coshocton County Health Department is hurting even worse, according to its PIO Christy Mosier.
“We have not received any seasonal flu vaccine. We thought we would receive a shipment by Sept. 1, but we don’t have it,” Mosier said.
The department does have a small amount of H1N1 vaccine to distribute, she said.