Tulsa gets some relief from the flu shot shortage

Monday, October 25th 2004, 10:04 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa just got more than 3,000 doses of vaccine for the youngest patients, with the greatest need Monday.

For most of the rest of us, flu vaccine will only be available in the flu mist. But as News on 6 reporter Rick Wells tells us, some are afraid the mist could actually cause and pass on the flu.

Alicia Etgen is taking calls and making appointments for a very limited number of pediatric flu shot doses that just arrived. "Tuesday Wednesday or Thursday, so just pick your day, we're pretty open."

These newly available doses are for pediatric patients with medical conditions, which would put them in high-risk categories, and for kids who couldn't get it otherwise. Callers to the flu hotline are asked a series of questions then are given an appointment. That's the only way one of these pediatric flu doses is available.

For the rest of us, the alternative will be the flu mist. It's designed for healthy individuals from age 5 thru age 49; it is a live virus that's sprayed up your nose. Janice Sheehan with the Tulsa City-County Health Department: "It's a very weakened vaccine and it's not going to give you the flu, you may get some side effects from it."

Flu like symptoms perhaps, but nothing like the real flu she says. There is a very low risk of passing the flu to someone with a low immune system in the first days following taking the flu mist, but for healthy folks she says it's an excellent alternative to the shot. “If used appropriately, you'll have a good outcome."

There are still some opportunities to get your kids one of these shots. Just call the Flu Hotline at 595-4500 to check on appointments.

They have no adult vaccines, but the Visiting Nurses Association will begin giving 13,000 flu vaccine doses next Monday, all to high-risk individuals.

For the rest of us it's the Flu-mist, and that's coming later this week. And once again there are no documented cases of getting or giving the flu from the mist.