Health officials take another shot at flu clinics

"If you have any of the previous schedules of flu shot times and locations, throw them away. There's a new one. And the way things are going, you may eventually have to throw it away too.This year, trying to get an annual vaccination for influenza has been considerably more sticky than usual. Vaccine manufacturers are running way behind schedule in shipping products and public health agencies across the country are becoming increasingly concerned that they may not win the race against this winter's flu strains.According to Whidbey General Hospital's Trish Rose, Island County was just notified that no vaccine will be shipped this week. That means two flu shot clinics scheduled for next week have been cancelled. So far, Island County has only received two shipments this year of only about 500 doses. Shipments were supposed to have started in October and be pretty much complete by now.Rose said there have been no reported flu cases on Whidbey yet but the first one could show up any day. Meanwhile, she said, many islanders who are at the greatest risk of developing flu complications have still not been vaccinated.We've got our fingers crossed, said Rose.People over age 65, health care workers, individuals with chronic disease and the people with whom they come in contact are considered to be in the greatest danger of complications due to influenza. County health workers are reserving a portion of each shipment for distribution in nursing homes and care facilities for residents who cannot get to the public clinics.Rose said it has been very hard to keep adjusting the clinic schedule because with each delay she has to find a replacement day, a new location and a new set of volunteers to man it. It also means trying to keep a good balance and serve the entire county.We're trying to be fair, said Rose. We don't want to go to Coupeville twice if we haven't been to Oak Harbor.Oak Harbor was originally scheduled for it's first clinic Nov. 10. Now that first clinic has been pushed back to Dec. 7. The first Coupeville clinic Nov. 13 featured long lines of people and not enough vaccine to go around.Here's the latest schedule of public flu shot clinics:Freeland: Friday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran ChurchOak Harbor: Thursday, Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Oak Manor Coupeville: Thursday, Dec. 21, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Coupeville Rec HallPlease note: Clinics originally scheduled for Monday, Nov. 27, on Camano Island, Tuesday, Nov. 28, in Coupeville and Tuesday, Dec. 12, in Oak Harbor have been cancelled.Shots are $12. Persons with Medicare B or Medicaid will not be charged but must present their cards or coupons at the time of service. "

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