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County still has some flu doses available


Fulton adheres to CDC guidelines


October 28, 2004
By HATCHER HURD

hatcher@northfulton.com

With a dwindling flu vaccine supply down to less than 1,000 doses, Fulton County is adhering to guidelines set up by the Centers for Disease Control and awaiting another shipment of vaccine not knowing if it will come.

Fulton County Health and Wellness Director Steven Katkowsky told the Fulton Board of Commissioners Oct. 20 that despite ordering 25 percent more flu vaccine this year than was needed last year, the county is facing a shortage along with the rest of the country. The disastrous loss of 50 million doses means the county has no way of knowing when or if more vaccine will arrive.

The county has dispensed some 3,750 flu vaccinations so far this fall. Last year is dispensed 12,000

The county was due Oct. 28 to get 7,500 doses, but the CDC is exercising its authority to redirect such shipments. Katkowsky says he does not know if Fulton County will get any at all.

Meanwhile, Katkowsky pointed out that there is no shortage of flu vaccine for children age 2 to 18. It is a different vaccine and was not part of the tainted vaccine that had to be destroyed.

"The priority will be for those most at risk to get flu shots first," Katkowsky. "Right now, those are the only ones we are authorized to give."

Another change in the priorities the CDC is handing out has been significant. Heretofore, the CDC gave priority to those most likely to catch the flu virus if they are not vaccinated. Now the priority is for those groups who are most likely to have complications or die if they catch the flu.

Katkowsky said the groups are not necessarily the same (see chart). Meanwhile, a flu information line has been established at 404-730-6522 to provide callers with the facts as they are made available.

Meanwhile, doctors may still have flu shots and are not regulated by the CDC guidelines, although they are requested to do so.

"The CDC has no enforcement capabilities for these private doctors. Also, there are private sources advertising flu shots in the newspaper. I don't know where they get their vaccine," Katkowsky said.

Some experts say it is still hard to tell if there is a shortage based on demand. Fulton County did not use all of the flu vaccine it had on hand last year and had to destroy the unused doses. So it may well be the county will experience the demand for flu shots to create a shortage in available doses.

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