Flu vaccine exhausted in county?

Kitsap County Health District exhausted its supply of influenza vaccine at its clinics in Bremerton, Port Orchard, Poulsbo, and Bainbridge Island officials announced Friday. It does not expect to get additional flu vaccines this season.

This year’s flu season began early — in November rather than its usual December start time — and is more severe than in years past, health officials said.

A 13-year old was admitted to Harrison Hospital with flu-like symptoms Friday, but the hospital reported no confirmed cases as of Monday.

Increased demand for the vaccine was driven, in part, by a recent recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to vaccinate children older than six months of age.

Flu symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and muscle aches.

The local Health District ordered approximately 7,000 doses of the vaccine. The number of doses ordered was based on an assessment of previous years’ demand.

Statewide 102,000 doses of the vaccine were ordered and so far 92,000 doses have been shipped to local health departments, the Washington State Department of Health reported recently.

In response to strong consumer demand for influenza vaccine, the CDC is working with vaccine manufacturers, state health departments, medical professionals, and others to assess the status of the current flu vaccine supply in the United States.

Reports indicate that most available flu vaccine supplies have now been distributed to doctors, clinics, health departments and other providers, which is not unusual for this time of year.

In a typical year, 70-75 million Americans receive a flu shot. This year, manufacturers produced about 83 million doses of flu vaccine. The United States has never used more than 80 million doses of flu vaccine in a season. It is not unusual at this time of year for influenza supplies to be limited as many health care providers begin to wind down their vaccination programs.

In the absence of a vaccination, other simple steps are available to everyone to protect against flu health officials said.

“Hand washing is very important,” said RN Betty Dunaway, director of infection control for Harrison Hospital.

She recommends people get vaccinated to rev up the immune system against that particular infection. The flu typically affects the upper respiratory system, which could develop into pneumonia.

For information, contact the Kitsap County Health District’s Clinical Services Program at (360) 337-5235, or call the Health District’s Flu Information Line at (360) 337-5280.

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