Fulton Co. optimistic it will receive more shots
Despite a national shortage, 260 doses of flu vaccine were administered to county residents by the Fulton County Health Unit Nov. 3 and more doses may be on their way.
"I'd hate to say if we'll have any more shots, but we are cautiously optimistic that we may get some more next week," said Fulton County Health Unit Administrator Wanda Koelling.
According to the Arkansas Health Department, the state will receive 80,000 additional doses of flu vaccine from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
"Obviously we are elated by this news," said Arkansas Health Department Director Fay Boozman.
Boozman said the Health Department will distribute the vaccines around the state as soon as possible.
Koelling said the initial batch of flu vaccines was dispersed quickly in Fulton County.
"We started at 8 a.m. and by 11 a.m. we were out of vaccine," Koelling said.
She said the vaccine was administered only to high risk patients. Those patients include children ages 6 to 23 months, individuals with heart or other chronic diseases, people with serious respiratory ailments and citizens over the age of 65.
Koelling said residents who are considered high risk will receive flu shots before healthy individuals if the Fulton County Health Unit acquires additional doses.
Officials at the Arkansas Health Department said despite the flu vaccine shortage there have been no reports of flu in Arkansas this fall.
Koelling said healthy citizens can reduce their chances of contracting the flu by washing their hands often, avoiding smoking or being exposed to smoke for lengthy periods and using hand sanitizer.
She said those who contract the flu can curtail the spread of the disease by avoiding contact with others, covering their mouths and noses when sneezing, throwing tissue in the trash after blowing their noses and frequently cleaning often-used surfaces in homes.
Boozman said, "The timing of the additional shipment is amazing. It comes on the heels of an incredible effort by ADH colleagues and volunteers to immunize our most frail populations in the largest one-day mass vaccination in our state's history."
He said a system to dispense mass quantities of medicine was put into place by the Arkansas Department of Health after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In many parts of the state it was the first time medicine had been administered on a broad scale in a short amount of time.
More information about the flu vaccination program in Arkansas is available by calling the Arkansas Department of Health flu line at 1-800-651-3493 or visiting the department's Web site at www.healthyarkansas.com/flushots.htm.