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Another flu-vaccine shortage anticipated

By Cindy Starr, Post staff reporter

The summer allergy season is here, but medical providers are anticipating a possible repea t of the flu-vaccine shortage that kept people waiting for weeks to get their shots last year.

''We're hearing that there's a shortage and that a delay in obtaining vaccinations could occur,'' said Joe Kelley, a spokesman for TriHealth.

The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta said it expects some delays in availability of flu -vaccine supplies this season. The CDC projected, however, that the total influenza-vaccine supply will be greater than in the last few years.

TriHealth plans to delay its flu-vaccine campaign from November to December. But even with th e delay, people getting shots will have adequate time to develop immunity for whatever flu is out next winter, Kelley sa id.

Flu season for the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky area generally starts in late December and conti nues through January and February.

''I don't want to cause alarm,'' Kelley said. ''We have flu vaccines for our employees and our high-risk patients.''

Peggy Patterson, spokeswoman for the Northern Kentucky Health Department, said that delays are n ot expected to be as severe as they were last season.

Pharmacists at St. Elizabeth Medical Center North in Covington have been told their order for flu vaccinations will be shipped in late October.

''They expect a delay, but at this point they expect to get what they've ordered,'' said sp okeswoman Karla Webb.

The Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati, which includes the St. Luke hospitals, University Hospital, Christ Hospital and Jewish Hospital, is in the process of ordering its vaccinations, said spokeswoman Patty Holi day. It also is anticipating a delay, she said.

Kroger, which plans to administer flu shots again this year, has placed its order and does n ot anticipate having a shortage of the vaccine, said spokeswoman Amy Schulten.

-- Martin Thompson (, July 16, 2001

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