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Flu shots stalled

"Flu season is approaching quickly and Island County Health Department workers have their syringes poised to start dispensing flu shots in early November. There’s only one problem. They have no vaccine to put in them.According to Melisa Doss, who has been fielding flu shot calls for the Health Department lately, about 16 percent of the total flu vaccine was supposed to arrive in October but none has shown up yet and the month is almost over. The department has already decided to cancel the first scheduled immunization clinic in Coupeville on Nov. 1.“We’re set to go, but ...,” said Doss this week. She said that if the first batch does show up, it will only be enough for around 100 doses, which will likely be used up in less than an hour. At the same time, though, Doss emphasized that the delay is not due to a shortage of vaccine and offered reassurance that it eventually will become available. Vaccine manufacturers say they will be able to make enough for everyone who wants a shot. The problem is that one of the three flu strains that are used in the vaccine has proven to be a slow grower in laboratories, said Doss.It’s generally recognized that flu season starts in January and medical experts suggest that people be immunized during November and December for best results. Doss said that following the October shipment, whenever it arrives, the department has been told they will receive the majority of their allotted vaccine in November and one last shipment in December.Department officials are asking local islanders to let those at greatest risk get first crack at the vaccine. Those given the highest priority are people over age 65, individuals with chronic disease, people they come in contact with and health care workers. The next highest priority is people age 50 to 60.The Health Department promises to keep the public informed about the availability of the vaccine and changes in the immunization schedule through announcements in the newspaper. For further information, call 679-7351, or from South Whidbey 321-5111, ext. 7351.------------------Flu shotsIt’s time for a flu shot. The Island County Health Department and Whidbey General Hospital have set up a roster of places to get vaccinated for this year’s version of the flu. Here’s the schedule. Hours are from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on each day. Shots cost $12. Persons with Medicare B or Medicaid will not be charged but must present their cards or coupons at the time of service.Wednesday, Nov. 1, Coupeville Recreation Hall — cancelledFriday, Nov. 3, Trinity Lutheran Church, FreelandFriday, Nov. 10, Oak Manor, Oak HarborMonday, Nov. 13, Coupeville Recreation HallWednesday, Nov. 15, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, LangleyMonday, Nov. 27, Camano Island Health Care CenterTuesday, Nov. 28, Coupeville Recreation HallMonday, Dec. 11, Camano Island Health Care CenterAfter this schedule has been completed, the Health Department will continue giving shots while supplies last at the following locations and times.Mondays, 1-5 p.m., 410 N. Main, CoupevilleTuesdays, 1-5 p.m., Southwest Community Health, LangleyWednesdays, 1-5, North Whidbey Resource Center, Oak Harbor "

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