OREGON COUNTY -- Oregon County received all the flu vaccine it asked for and the last three vaccines in the county were administered at the health department Oct. 24.
Oregon County Health Department Director Shiela Russell said she makes her annual flu vaccine order in February every year. "I usually order around 1,000 doses of the vaccine. Because the Centers for Disease Control pushed the flu vaccine so much last year, I ordered an extra 500 vaccines and now I am glad that I did," Russell said.
The vaccine arrived in the county Oct. 13 and Russell said health department officials immediately went to work setting up clinics to administer the vaccine.
Only two pharmaceutical companies supply the flu vaccine to the United States. A vaccine shortage occurred Oct. 5 when regulators shut down Chiron Corp.'s labs in Liverpool, England, cutting the expected United States supply by 48 million doses, or nearly half. Russell said she orders her vaccine from the Aventis Company in Pennsylvania.
Russell credits the success of the health department receiving all the vaccine it asked for to being "blessed and lucky." She did order the vaccine early and thinks this may be one reason for Oregon County's success in receiving the vaccine in a timely fashion. "Some health departments and clinics, Springfield in Green County for instance, have yet to receive one dose of the vaccine," Russell said. She added she is aware some health departments and clinics in Arkansas are also having difficulty getting the vaccine.
The Alton and Thayer Senior Centers were the locations of the only flu vaccine clinics outside the health department. The nursing homes in the county were also provided the vaccine through the health department, 100 doses for Shady Oaks at Thayer and approximately 40 for Shepherd's View at Alton.
"All of the people that attended the clinics or came into the office to inquire or receive the flu vaccine had great respect for the elderly and at-risk residents of the county. We didn't have anyone ask for a shot that we didn't think needed it. That makes us proud," Russell said.