Production problems cause delay in flu shot delivery

Thursday, August 24th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Production problems that have delayed the making of flu vaccines will result in Oklahomans having to wait a while before they can get their flu shots.

"We're not sure when we will get the vaccine," said Micki Davy said, director of clinical services for the Visiting Nurse Association.

The group usually begins vaccination clinics in Oklahoma around the first of October. But recent recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prompted the organization to hold off scheduling for at least three weeks.

State Health Department epidemiologist Mike Crutcher said the CDC hasn't estimated when vaccines will be shipped, but has asked health organizations to postpone vaccination clinics until November or early December.

The delay shouldn't compromise anyone's protection against the flu, Crutcher said.

Flu season usually peaks between late January and early February in Oklahoma. Flu vaccinations become effective about two weeks after inoculation.

"Getting a flu shot in November, or even December, isn't a problem," Crutcher said. He said he has greater concerns that there will be a shortage of vaccines.

Federal officials say they expect to know next month whether there will be a shortage of the vaccine that protects against flu strains A/Panama, A/New Caledonia and B/ Yamanashi. The vaccine should have been available for distribution in July.

Vaccine labs have had trouble growing cultures of the A/ Panama strain. In addition, two of the four manufacturing companies were cited for manufacturing and quality violations. Correcting the violations slowed production.

Health officials say enough vaccine will be available for people at high risk of developing complications from the flu. The high-risk group includes anyone over 65, pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses.

Officials said those people should be able to schedule their flu shots through a doctor without delay.