Flu vaccine shortage causes restrictions for U students

By and

Students seeking influenza vaccinations this season may be unable to find any at Student Health Services in the U’s Madsen Health Center.

The supply of vaccine from the United Kingdom was stopped before shipment to the United States, cutting the expected supply in half.

The company that produces the vaccine, Chiron Corporation, had its license suspended because of contamination problems.

The shortage of flu vaccine has caused Student Health Services to work in compliance with local health departments to vaccinate for the next four weeks “only persons at the highest risk of influenza complications.”

The recommendation came from the Utah Department of Health in collaboration with the Center for Disease Control.

Carmine McDonald, a nurse manager at Student Health Services, said her clinic will perform scans for those persons who are at high risk.

As of Tuesday, the center has received “about 500 individual doses,” according to McDonald. The center originally expected to get an additional 500 vaccinations from the Chiron Corp., but has had to look elsewhere to make up for the loss. McDonald said the center may receive more doses before the month ends. McDonald advised everyone should get vaccinated, but people need to understand that high-risk individuals are more prone to complications due to the flu.

About 36,000 people in the United States die from the flu each year, according to UDOH. However, the majority of these are individuals from high-risk groups.

The vaccine will benefit individuals because it resembles the flu, so the body builds antibodies against influenza.

Healthy people ages 5 to 49 who cannot get a vaccination are encouraged to use a nasal spray known as FluMist. The spray contains a live, attenuated, or weakened virus. It is sprayed into the nostrils rather than injected into the muscle.

Because influenza spreads, McDonald reminds people to stay home if they are sick, to wash their hands often, avoid touching their hands to their faces and to have good coughing or sneezing hygiene by using a tissue or coughing into their shoulders.

UDOH will begin posting reported influenza cases today at www.health.utah.gov/epi.

The Web site will be updated once a week by each Wednesday at 1 p.m.

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High-risk groups given vaccination priority

Children six months to 23 months of age Adults 65 years and olderPersons 2 years to 64 years with chronic medical conditionsWomen who will be pregnant during the flu seasonResidents of nursing homes and long-term care facilitiesChildren six months to 18 years of age on long-term aspirin therapyHealth-care workers with direct patient careOut-of-home caregiversHousehold contacts of children less than six months old