`Nationwide problem’ sees flu vaccines hard to find

By Staff Writer
November 16, 2000

by Tracy Timson

assistant copy editor

The season is almost here. Not just winter, but the flu season. Coughing, sneezing, muscle aches. These are all symptoms of what is known as the flu.

The flu season lasts from December to February with usually only a few cases before this time period. When asked if there have been many cases of the flu diagnosed on campus this year Sue Fitzgerald stated, “No, I haven’t seen any real flu this year.” Cabrini usually would provide 70 to 80 flu shots during the flu season.

This year the flu vaccine is hard to find, especially for private physicians and smaller medical facilities including Cabrini’s own Rooymans Center. Fitzgerald said, this problem is a “nationwide” problem; it is not just around our area. If you were one of the lucky ones, a company called Vaccess, was on campus on Tuesday, Oct. 10. While they brought 260 doses of the vaccine to Cabrini, only 121 doses were given to students. These were the students who went to take advantage of this opportunity for the vaccine.

Each year the shot covers different strains. According to CDC.com, this year’s covered strains are what is known as New Caledonis, Panama and Yamanashi. These are “used because of their growth properties and because they are representative of currently circulating A and B viruses.”

The reason this vaccine is less prevalent this year is because Panama is a less stable strain, making it harder to manufacturer.

According to Sue Fitzgerald, “This forced the FDA to only grant two manufacturers with permission to produce the vaccine.” Usually for a vaccine like this there are four manufacturers resulting in a huge difference in availability for this year compared to past years.

Fitzgerald’s advice for whether the vaccine was worth it was that “if you see a place offering it, absolutely go.” Take advantage of places offering the vaccine, even if it is not your family doctor due to this year’s shortage.

Without the vaccination there are things the campus community can do to prevent the flu.

Remember to always wash your hands. “Your skin is the first offense against infection,” Fitzgerald said.

Other ways to prevent the flu is to eat right and get enough rest. Make sure that you are taking proper care of yourself and that is the first step you can take against staying away from the dreaded flu symptoms.

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