Vaccine Shortages Reported As Flu Cases Rise In Oklahoma

Thursday, January 17th 2013, 6:53 pm
By: News 9

New flu cases are hitting the state hard, and despite early warnings from health officials, a number of Oklahomans didn't get a flu shot. Now, the rush to find the vaccine has some people coming up empty-handed.

"It's been a little bit worse than it was last year," said immunization field consultant, Megan Scott.

That news has residents in Cleveland County out of luck. The Cleveland County Health Department is now out of adult flu vaccines.

"We did our orders based on last year. And last year we didn't have as many. So we didn't order as much," said Scott.

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While the vaccine is still available of for children under 19, more than 5,000 adult vaccinations were given out.

"Because the rush came later, during the flu season, we haven't been able to move as fast on those orderings," Scott said.

And with flu season very active January through February, health experts say it's never too late.

"From what we know of the strains that are circulating during this flu season, compared to what is included in the components of the vaccine, we do know that it does seem to be a good match," said health department epidemiologist, Laurence Burnsed.

If your physician is out of the vaccine, it's recommended you follow the "typical" health precautions.

"Just continue to wash your hands, cover your cough. If you're sick you should stay at home," Burnsed said.

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Officials say they're ordering more vaccinations every week.

"It's about 62% effective, but it's important to note that the vaccine may not be 100% percent effective, but it does provide a good level of protection," Burnsed said.

Since Sept. 30, the flu has put nearly 500 Oklahomans in the hospital. Just in the last week more than 100 new cases requiring hospitalization have been reported.