Students may not qualify for flu vaccine

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    By Eric Jenkins

    Students may have a hard time getting flu vaccinations this winter.

    The Utah Department of Health announced that flu vaccine will be in short supply. Influenza vaccine manufacturers have informed the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control to expect major delays in shipments of the vaccine.

    Jana C. Kettering, spokesperson for the Utah Department of Health, said Utah will probably only receive about 60 percent of the vaccine that has been ordered. Vaccine shipments will also be much later than usual.

    “We are usually pretty well stocked by October,” Kettering said. “This year we will be receiving some shipments as late as December.”

    Kettering said that influenza vaccine producers failed to grow enough of the virus required to create the vaccine.

    Because of the shortage the Health Department is urging health care providers to prioritize vaccinations according to need. The department has established 3 levels of priority.

    First priority includes individuals at highest risk of death from influenza. These include nursing home patients, individuals with chronic disease and anyone 65 years or older.

    Second priority includes health care workers, people in contact with chronically ill patients and pregnant women in their 2nd or 3rd trimester.

    The rest of the population is considered third priority. Vaccinations in this category will be available first to critical community workers, then people over 50, foreign travelers, the general work force, and finally the general population.

    Students are part of the general population, and the last to receive vaccinations.

    “They will have to wait until we give the signal that it is okay to be immunized,” Kettering said.

    Health care providers and organizations planning influenza vaccination campaigns have been asked to delay these campaigns until November.

    Influenza cases usually peak in February. If this is a normal flu year, vaccine shipments received in December and January will hopefully be large enough to cover late winter demand.

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