Flu vaccines are plentiful after all

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The stock of flu vaccine that appeared so scarce in October is now relatively abundant, and the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association will host a drop-in flu shot clinic next week. The VNA also has lowered the minimum eligibility age for older adults from 65 to 50, the VNA's Susan Bowler said.

The drop-in flu shot clinic is from 9 to 11 a.m. and again from noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday. The cost is $18.

Rebecca Moseby, a registered nurse at Steamboat Medical Group, said her clinic still has 500 doses of flu vaccine and is offering them without restriction. Patients do not need an appointment to drop in for a flu shot. The price is $15 for cash on the spot, or $18 if it is submitted to a health insurance provider.

Bowler said if anything, she is concerned that older residents and adults with health conditions that make them more susceptible to complications from contracting the flu are being too unselfish in deferring their shots.

"The good news is there's not a lot of influenza nationwide and locally," Bowler said. "We've got plenty of vaccine, please come in."

There's more good news to be found in the lab cultures grown from flu cases this winter. They show that the predominant strains of flu and the A and B varieties covered by this year's shots.

The VNA reported that in October it expected to receive only 200 of the 4,000 doses of flu vaccine it had expected. That development came about after the British government suspended the license of vaccine manufacturer Chiron. Since then, a milder than expected start to the flu season has loosened the supply

Bowler said VNA of America helped the Northwest Colorado chapter obtain 1,900 doses. The VNA here still has 900 doses, and Bowler was able to ship some doses to other areas that experienced a true shortage.

When the anticipated shortage was first announced, the VNA asked healthy adults and older children to postpone their flu shots so high-risk infants and the elderly could be certain to get their shots. Bowler said her impression was that parents of young children in the area have followed through on getting shots for their youngsters. However, she's concerned that adults with health conditions such as high blood pressure and asthma are deferring their own shots when they shouldn't be. A case of flu for an adult with asthma, for example, could lead to a more serious respiratory disease such as pneumonia.

For more information, contact the VNA at 879-1632.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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