Shortage of Flu Vaccine Continues

Montgomery, AL – A statewide survey for flu vaccine says that Alabama health-care providers got about one-fourth of the vaccine they ordered. The state health department surveyed seven thousand physicians, pharmacies, hospitals and assisted living centers. State Health Officer Don Williamson says one-point-two million flu vaccinations were ordered statewide, and 290 thousand have so far arrived. Williamson also says he had hoped to be able to shift vaccine from areas with surpluses to those with shortages. But he says the survey showed there is no substantial amount to shift around. Williamson also says some high-risk patients might not be able to get flu shots because of the shortage. Meanwhile, most members of Alabama's congressional delegation took advantage of the flu vaccine made available to lawmakers despite the nationwide shortage. Both of the state's senators, Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, have received their shots. Sessions says he got the shot under advisement by the congressional physician. Shelby, meanwhile, says he was vaccinated because he is 70 years old, and that puts him at risk. Congressmen Terry Everett, Robert Aderholt and Bud Cramer say they got their shots before they knew about the shortage. The only three congressmen who did not get shots are the three freshmen--Artur Davis, Jo Bonner and Mike Rogers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that healthy Americans below age 65 NOT get a shot this year unless the vaccine shortage is resolved. Both President Bush and Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry took that advice.