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Tulsa Health Department Expects To Temporarily Run Out Of Flu Vaccine

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It was a packed waiting room Tuesday at the Tulsa Health Department. Dozens of people waited for a free flu shot. It was a packed waiting room Tuesday at the Tulsa Health Department. Dozens of people waited for a free flu shot.
The Tulsa Health Department has given out 20,000 vaccines in a week and a half and they expect to temporarily run out by the end of the week. The Tulsa Health Department has given out 20,000 vaccines in a week and a half and they expect to temporarily run out by the end of the week.

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Health workers are bracing for a flu vaccine shortage.

The Tulsa Health Department expects to temporarily run out of seasonal flu shots by the end of the week, but the health department will get another shipment of flu shots next month. Other medical groups are also running low.

The Visiting Nurse Association has given out 11,000 shots over the last week. Nurses say they've never seen such a high demand so early in the season.

It was a packed waiting room Tuesday at the Tulsa Health Department. Dozens of people waited for a free flu shot.

"I think it's the scare about the H1N1 and just more awareness about getting sick and staying healthy," said Kristy Pawlak, a mom.

The seasonal flu shot will not protect against H1N1, but the Tulsa Health Department admits flu fears in general are running high.

"Typically the Tulsa Health Department does not run out of seasonal flu vaccine. In fact, we never run out," said Melanie Christian, Tulsa Health Department.

So that makes this year one for the record books. The Health Department has given out 20,000 vaccines in a week and a half and they expect to temporarily run out by the end of the week.

The Visiting Nurse Association of Tulsa ordered 58,000 doses back in March. Normally that would last them through the end of December. But this year, they'll run out before Halloween.

"We're hoping to make it to the 24th. That's our goal, get to the 24th. And anything after that is going to be a bonus," said Shannon Robbins, VNA Director.

VNA nurses are stationed at all 13 Reasor's in metro Tulsa. They're averaging 1,500 shots a day, and they just started giving them out last week. They've cancelled dozens of appointments at local businesses to accommodate the demand.

"People started calling at the end of August asking for it, and we didn't have it yet," said Shannon Robbins, VNA Director.

And now that it's finally here, people are willing to wait for hours, before it's gone.

Again, the Tulsa Health Department will get another shipment of seasonal flu shots next month. Next week, they'll get 19,000 H1N1 vaccines. That's more than double the amount of the last two shipments.

Free seasonal flu vaccinations at Tulsa area clinics:

Expo Square Health Center
4616 E. 15th Street, Tulsa, OK
8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday - Thursday
8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Friday

James O. Goodwin Health Center
5051 S. 129th E. Avenue, Tulsa, OK
8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday - Thursday
8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Friday

Central Regional Health Center
315 S. Utica, Tulsa, OK
8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday - Thursday
8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Friday

North Regional Health Center
5424 N. Madison Avenue
Tulsa, OK 74126
Call (918) 591-6006 for hours

Bixby Community Health Center
8120 E. 126th Street
Bixby, OK 74008
Call (918) 369-3155 for hours

Collinsville Community Health Center
1201 W. Center
Collinsville, OK 74021-3111
Call (918) 596-8650 for hours

Sand Springs Health Center
306 E. Broadway
Sand Springs, OK 74063-7911
Call (918) 591-6100 for hours

For more information on seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccine availability you can call the Tulsa Health Department flu information line at 918-595-4500.

10/13/2009  Related Story: Tulsa County Gets 8,400 Doses Of The H1N1 Vaccine

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