Local health clinics are rushing to get the word out that we're going to be short on flu vaccines after all this year. The British government announced Tuesday it was shutting down Chiron, a company that provides 47 million flu shots to the U.S.
On Wednesday, the full effect of that is sinking in. Almost half the supply of the flu vaccine is suddenly not available, so clinics everywhere are rushing to get the word out.
"It's clear that we will not be able to cover even the entire what we call high risk population of individuals who are likely to experience a severe outcome should they develop the flu with the amount of vaccine we know we have," says Dr. Michael Osterholm, University Of Minnesota.
Here at home, University Medical Center announced on Wednesday that it was under contract with Chiron for flu vaccines. As a result of the shut down, UMC does not have any flu vaccines available right now.
Since there is a limited supply everywhere, what is available in the U.S. has been placed on hold by the Centers for Disease Control. That leaves the rest of us waiting to see how those government officials will decide how the remaining vaccines will be distributed.
So far, the government is asking doctors and the public to voluntarily leave what vaccine remains for those high risk individuals age 65 or older, those with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, and health workers. By the way, the only good news about this years supply is that there is plenty of vaccine out there in the dosage for babies 6 to 23 months-old, so be sure to talk to your pediatrician about that if you have a small infant.