Flu vaccine shortage affects BYU

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    By Alyse Parks

    With the shortage of the nation”s supply of influenza vaccines, those who will be receiving shots are young children and people who are at high risk.

    “Healthy adults have been told to skip flu shots this season,” said Julie Gerberding, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Officials learned Tuesday that British drug maker Chiron Corp. will not be able to distribute about 48 million influenza vaccine doses destined for the United States for this flu season because they were suspended by British regulators, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

    “They”re probably going to ration initially what”s available in the county,” said Craig Swenson, a registered pharmacist at the BYU Health Center. “Those that are 65 and older and children from about six months to two years are the high risk people. Also, people with respiratory problems or heart problems are considered high risk.”

    Swenson said he thinks the county will make sure all the people who are at high risk will get their shots.

    “From then on it will be rationed out,” Swenson said. “County Public Health Clinics will determine who and how we will get it.”

    BYU Health Center normally gets 4, 400 doses of the vaccine for BYU campus and the students.

    “Right now, unless things change we won”t be receiving any vaccine,” Swenson said.

    Most of the vaccine BYU Health Center had ordered was from Chiron Corp.

    “I was planning on getting a flu shot this season and I think it”s terrible that there is a shortage,” said Ashley Blakely, a sophomore from Redmond, Wash. “It angers me that my health isn”t as important as other”s health. I can understand why some people might need it more than others, but BYU campus should be one of those at risk places.”

    According to Swenson, the flu is caught by contact.

    “If you know people who”ve got the flu, you just want to avoid them as much as you can,” Swenson said. “Really, if you get an outbreak it”s kind of hard to avoid it, especially if you”re in contact with a lot of people going to school.”

    Some BYU students wonder how bad the flu season will be this year, especially with the shortage of vaccines.

    “I think the flu season might be awful at BYU this year,” Blakely said. “We are in such close quarters here on campus, so if one person gets sick, everyone else will get infected.”

    Swenson said the main problem with flu season at BYU is when students go home for Christmas, pick up the flu in their area and then bring it back to BYU campus.

    The flu season generally starts in Nov. and runs through March.

    Last year was a bad year for the flu season because it came a lot earlier than it normally does, Swenson said.

    “If it”s a bad flu season and we can”t get any of the vaccine, then we”ll probably have a problem,” he said. “If it”s not a bad flu season, then we probably won”t notice anything.”

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