SIKESTON -- Worried about the upcoming flu season? Don't be. Health officials say this year's influenza vaccine supply is plentiful, and anyone will be able to receive the shot
"Everything we've heard and have been told from CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the (flu vaccine) manufacturers is there will be plenty this year," said Brian Quinn, spokesman for Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Quinn said he didn't know about delays of vaccine shipments to providers. He also said no restrictions have been applied to the vaccine supply this year either.
"There should be plenty for about everyone to get one," Quinn said. "Of course, we are most concerned with the risk groups -- the very young, very old and folks with lower immune systems, health care providers or those working in the nursing homes or rest homes."
On Friday, Mississippi County Health Center offered its first flu shot clinic.
"We were swamped. Everybody knows fall and October mean flu shots," administrator Melanie Glaus said.
Those who attended the clinic on Friday were the high-risk population -- 65 and older who were more prone to illnesses, Glaus said.
"We only received 370 of the 1,700 doses we ordered. We started at 9 a.m. and by 11:30 a.m. we were completely out," Glaus said.
Another shipment is expected to arrive Tuesday, Glaus said.
Mississippi County hasn't received its supply of children's vaccine yet; however, the department staff is compiling a list of children who need the vaccine.
"The manufacturers are saying there's plenty of vaccine, but the thing is manufacturers are sending the vaccine in allotments of 100," Glaus said.
Glaus said there are three manufacturers of the flu vaccine, and it takes the CDC to release the lot numbers. Larger store pharmacies have received every dose they ordered and have been giving it for a week now, she said. Meanwhile most doctor's offices and public health departments are receiving their orders in increments.
"We have a small amount of vaccine and are doing it by appointment only. Our large supply hasn't come in yet," said Kay Griffin, nurse practitioner at Scott County Health Center in Sikeston.
Once the larger supply comes in, the department will announce clinics. It could be later this month or beginning of November before clinics are scheduled, Griffin said.
New Madrid County Health Center doesn't have any vaccine yet, but Paula Rost, director of nursing, said she expects it any time. No clinics will be scheduled until after the shipment arrives. New Madrid County usually administers between 2,000 and 2,500 flu shot each year, she said.
To find the nearest flu clinic, Quinn suggested contacting a health care provider or local public health agency to check on availability of the vaccine.
Quinn also recommended visiting www.flucliniclocator.org through American Lung Association. Just type in the ZIP code and mile range and do a clinic search.
For example, for Sikeston's ZIP, results indicated Super D Drugs is conducting a flu clinic from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 20 and Walgreens will hold a clinic from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 26.
Quinn noted the height of flu season in Missouri is in January and February. "If people, for some reason, can't get the vaccine now, it doesn't hurt to wait even into December, January and February to get vaccinated. It takes 10 days to 2 weeks for full strength to provide protection," Quinn said.
Quinn said the outlook for the upcoming flu season is unknown.
"Over the past few years, it's been moderate to severe so we can't forecast what the year will be like," Quinn said. "There should be plenty of vaccine and folks are starting now to take personal prevention measures."
Personal prevention measures include good hand washing practices (using lots of soap of rinsing several times throughout the day), sneeze and cough etiquette (using a barrier such as a tissue and discarding it immediately or using the crook of the arm). Antibacterial gel can be used but is not a substitute for soap and water, he said.
Senior adults may also want to inquire about the pneumococcal vaccine to see if it's something they can get or should get based on own medical history. Pneumococcal disease are very serious infections caused by bacteria related to middle ear infections, pneumonia, blood stream infections, sinus infections and meningitis.
And anyone who thinks they're getting ill or getting the flu should stay home. "It spreads so easily and can be devastating," Quinn said about the flu. "And as we fold into the topic of pandemic influenza, we should take precautions now so if we do see a pandemic, we'll be prepared for it."