Portales prepares for flu vaccine

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Many health providers in Portales are anticipating having enough flu shots go around this fall and are hopeful to begin receiving shipments for the general public in late October and early November.

Carol Morgan, nurse manager for the public health office in Portales, said she is hopeful of having vaccines and being able to administer flu shots at the 32nd Annual Peanut Valley Festival from Oct. 22-23.

Debra Herman, doctor of pharmacy for La Casa de Buena Salud, said La Casa de Buena Salud workers are waiting on their shipment and are hopeful of receiving shipments in late October or early November.

Mary Russell, RGH emergency room director, said they are also looking to receive shipments for the general public in late October or early November.

Area medical professionals said high-risk individuals, such as those over the age of 60 and those with chronic heart or lung conditions will be receiving the first doses. Last year, some area medical officials had to wait until December and January.

However, area medical professionals, say the forecast for this year is better.

“I think the feeling is that we’re (healthcare providers) going to have a sufficient quantity of vaccines,” Herman said.

A reason for having more vaccines this year is because of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s decision not to rely solely on one company. The Chiron Corporation, one of four manufacturers that will provide vaccines to the U.S. this year projects production of 18–26 million doses of inactivated influenza vaccine for the upcoming flu season, according to an article from the Department of Health and Human Services Web site. The department expects 97 million total doses will be delivered this year in the U.S., according to the Web site.

Chiron, the sole provider last year, was only able to provide 50 million flu doses for the 2004 season, according to a health Web site.

Each healthcare provider said they will publicize when flu shots are accessible to the general public when they receive the shipments.

Flu shots are already being administered at the campus of Eastern New Mexico University. Ellen Mobley, a registered nurse for the Student Health Services office, said a majority of the people they see each year are faculty members and family members of faculty.

Mobley said on average they have 400 to 600 doses for those who come in for flu shots. The ENMU flu clinic will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., today. Mobley said ENMU health officials ordered the vaccines, a year ahead from Aventis Pasteur, a Pennsylvania manufacturer, and received their shipment for the flu clinic.

“Last year, we didn’t receive our shipment until December because of the shortages,” Mobley said.

The cost per shot is $10 at the flu clinic, for more information, call 562-2321.

Morgan advised family members should get flu shots if they have babies between birth and six months in the household.