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Demand for flu vaccine exceeds supply

If you haven’t already gotten your annual flu shot you may be out of luck &045; at least for now.

According to a news release from the Alabama Department of Public Health, demand for the vaccine has exceeded the supply available for the 2003-04 flu season. The release states that there is no vaccine available at county health departments. It noted that last week the federal government announced shipment of an additional 1,400 doses to be distributed through public health areas, though some departments may not receive any.

Dallas County Health Department director Ashvin Parikh confirmed that there is no vaccine available through his department right now, though a few doses were received last week. Parikh said he continues to hope for more vaccine next month, but in that case shots would be administered to children, who only require half the adult dose, he said.

In the meantime, any area business or industry wanting the vaccine for its employees may be able to get it &045; for the price that it costs the health department, according to Parikh. Some vaccine is still available through wholesalers, he said.

He noted that the Riverdale Plant of International Paper successfully purchased enough vaccine for its employees a couple of weeks ago, through Parikh’s channels, and a public health nurse administered the shots on site.

The state health department notes that more than 200,000 flu shots have been administered this season in Alabama, and that the department ordered the largest quantity of the vaccine ever.

The news release states that influenza cases usually peak in January or February in Alabama.

In addition to immunization people are encouraged to wash their hands frequently.