City’s flu vaccine dwindling

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 30, 2005

Suffolk News-Herald

Virginia has not yet determined whether it will follow the federal government’s recommendation that states drop their restrictions on flu shots.

To avoid the risk of wasting millions of flu vaccine doses, the Centers for Disease Control on Thursday urged states with ample vaccine supplies to make the shots available for anyone who requests them.

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Virginia lifted some restrictions on Jan. 10, expanding the circle of people eligible for flu shots. Before that time, flu shots were reserved for the elderly, babies and people with chronic medical conditions.

&uot;I’m not sure what is available in the rest of the state,&uot; said Pat Winters, nursing manager at the Suffolk Health Department. &uot;The vaccine supply is spotty across Hampton Roads.

&uot;Virginia Beach has no vaccine left. Chesapeake has several hundred doses,&uot; she continued. &uot;And Suffolk has about 130 doses.&uot;

Over the past week, the Suffolk Health Department has given 120 flu shots, Winters said.

With the limited supply available in Hampton Roads, it doesn’t really matter whether the restrictions are lifted, Winters said.

&uot;If we open it up to all, it will be gone in a day,&uot; she said. &uot;If we don’t open it up, it will be gone within a week anyway.&uot;

So far, the flu season in Suffolk has been exceptionally light.

&uot;Thus far, it has been a mild flu season,&uot; Winters said. &uot;It has not peaked yet this year.&uot;