11/17/05 — Health Department not sure when more flu vaccine will arrive

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Health Department not sure when more flu vaccine will arrive

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 17, 2005 1:49 PM

The Wayne County Health Department is on a waiting list for flu vaccine and officials are not sure when the department will receive more.

The last of the vaccine available was used Wednesday morning.

At a meeting later in the day of the county Board of Health, board members were told that department officials hope another 750 doses of the vaccine can be obtained. The previous allocation of vaccine was all the department had been guaranteed for this year, said Debbie Garner, the department's immunization coordinator. The department had given more than 3,000 flu shots in the past two weeks, Ms. Garner said.

Ms. Garner said that while there have been relatively few cases of influenza so far this season, 16 states have already reported cases. North Carolina is among them, she noted. She also pointed to the growing concern worldwide over the possibility of a severe outbreak of avian flu.

She told board members that recent flu clinics conducted by the department have helped health officials learn more about how to deal with large numbers of people seeking immunization.

At the clinic held Oct. 29 at Goldsboro Middle School, an estimated 1,620 vaccines were given, she said. Ms. Garner said that health department staff members learned much from the event and will be able to better serve people at the next one.

Health officials are working to make online versions of required paperwork easier to understand, she said. Having people with forms in hand when they arrive at a clinic helps make the immunization process work smoother, she said.

She said health officials were pleased at the way the public complied with guidelines to make immunization more orderly. People had been asked to come for their shots at times determined by alphabetical order.

"We asked people to come at certain times according to the first letter of their last name," Ms. Garner said. "We didn't think they'd do it. We were very surprised and pleased to find out they did."

She said the average wait time for people getting a flu shot was only 20 minutes, with an average of 175 patients seen each hour at the clinic.

Broken down further, she estimated the number of patients seen from 8-10 a.m. at 400, with 375 seen from 10 a.m. until noon, 429 between 12-2:30 p.m., and 324 between 2:30 and 5 p.m.

The success of the clinic showed the department can handle large numbers of clients efficiently, Ms. Garner said.