Saturday, December 13, 2003

Local supply of flu shots dwindling



By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

While concern grows over the flu that is spreading through Cincinnati, supplies of the vaccine meant to fight the virus are shrinking just as fast.

GET IN LINE
Monday, flu shots will be available at the following locations:

North College Hill: 2-4 p.m. at North College Hill High School, 1620 W. Galbraith Road.

Madisonville: Braxton Cann Medical Center, 5818 Madison Road (call for vaccine hours: 271-6089).

Over-the-Rhine: Elm Street Health Center, 1525 Elm St. (call for hours: 352-3092).

Millvale: Millvale Health Center, 3301 Beekman St. (call for hours: 352-3192).

Northside: Northside Health Center, 3917 Spring Grove Ave., (call for hours: 357-7600).

Price Hill: Price Hill Health Center, 2136 W. Eighth St. (call for hours: 357-2700).

Avondale: Ambrose Clement Health Center, 3101 Burnet Ave., Avondale (call for hours: 357-7300).

Public health agencies in most of the counties surrounding Cincinnati and Hamilton County are out of the vaccine that fights the A/Panama influenza strain that has emptied workplaces and classrooms and filled doctors' offices and emergency rooms over the past week.

• No vaccine left: Butler, Clermont and Warren counties in Ohio; Boone, Campbell, Kenton and Grant counties in Kentucky.

• Supplies nearly exhausted: Dearborn County public health officials had about 140 doses left Friday afternoon, but Dr. Gary Scudder, the county's health department director, said those would be gone by day's end.

Health officials hold out some hope of getting supplies from the state and federal governments, but they don't know when or how much.

• Limited supply: The Cincinnati Health Department, which operates six health clinics around the city, and the Hamilton County General Health District, which embarked on a countywide flu shot campaign Dec. 1, may both be out of the vaccine by next week.

"We have about 1,200 flu shots in our arsenal and that number is rapidly depleting," Cincinnati Health Commissioner Malcolm Adcock said Friday afternoon.

The city's health clinics in Over-the-Rhine, Madisonville, Millvale, Northside, Price Hill and Avondale won't offer flu shots over the weekend, but will start up again Monday morning and go "as long as the vaccine lasts," Adcock said.

The Cincinnati Health Department has scheduled an additional session for flu shots 5-8 p.m. Wednesday at the Ambrose H. Clement Health Center in Avondale, but may have to cancel it.

The outbreak has led to emergency rooms handling nearly double normal daily patient load and a number of school closings here..

On Friday, the Finneytown Local School District was shut down, as was St. Williams School in Price Hill. In Butler County, the Madison School District and Middletown Fenwick High School were closed. In Northern Kentucky, the Augusta and Mason County schools shut.

Not enough to go around

While the schools and hospitals struggled with the spreading illness, public health officials fought a losing battle to accommodate thousands seeking vaccination.

Hamilton County health officials aren't sure they will be able to complete a traveling flu shot campaign that was to have made 11 stops in various parts of the county through Dec. 24.

Friday, hundreds lined up outside the Montgomery Safety Center on Montgomery Road for shots offered by Hamilton County. About 400 vaccinations were given between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m., said Kathy Lordo, director of community health information services.

But, Lordo said, dozens were turned away and told to show up at the county's next flu shot availability, from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday at North College Hill High School.

"We have enough vaccine to handle it on Monday, but after that, we are going to have to evaluate if we can keep doing this," Lordo said.

Hamilton County may have to cancel sessions in Forest Park, Deer Park, Symmes Township and Anderson Township if vaccine supplies can't be replenished.

The Clermont County Health Department ran out of vaccine Friday after inoculating about 500 people Tuesday and Thursday.

"We've ordered more from the Ohio Department of Health, but they don't have much left either," said Dr. Janet Rickabaugh, the Clermont County health commissioner.

E-mail hwilkinson@enquirer.com




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