10/24/06 — Clinics still don't have flu vaccine for children

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Clinics still don't have flu vaccine for children

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 24, 2006 1:50 PM

A delay in production and distribution of flu vaccines for young children has stalled some local pediatricians, who say they anticipate the shots will be available by next week.

One manufacturer of flu shots for children ages 3 and under announced last week that most of the year's U.S. supply would be delayed for at least three weeks, prompting concern among some health care providers.

Dr. David Tayloe of Goldsboro Pediatrics called the situation a mess.

"North Carolina is a fickle state. Everything flows through Raleigh, and it's not flowing," he said Monday.

"We run four offices. Our main office (in Goldsboro) has got the vaccine. But Princeton, Mount Olive and LaGrange have not. If we just give out the vaccine in Goldsboro, we're afraid it's going to be a holy mess."

Tayloe said having more than one office complicates things.

"Those people in the other areas go to our offices and expect the same service. It's difficult to transfer vaccines back and forth. (It) gets our record-keeping off," he said.

The problem is also a record-keeping nightmare for the state, he said.

"The state makes every office accountable for the vaccine, but the state buys the vaccine," he said.

It is vital that children be immunized against influenza, Tayloe said. Not only for them, but to prevent rampant transmission of the flu among older adults.

Ideally, vaccines would be given as early as Oct. 1, he said.

"We weren't all that busy in September, October," he said. "Once November, December and January get here, our offices will be jammed. We'll probably have to set up Saturday clinics, but you can't even plan those until you get your vaccines."

Any way you look at it, Tayloe said, the situation is not good -- for children, for pediatricians, for the community.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that flu vaccines have to be made brand new each year, he said. It does not have a shelf life or even a half life where leftovers can be held for any length of time.

"It's made now to be given this season and the company that makes most of the vaccines (for children) has said there's a three-week delay in the manufacturing process," he said.

"It's especially bad because we're asked to give two doses of flu vaccine one month apart - give a half dose and they come back for another dose."

After it is done that way once, in subsequent years children receive one shot for the season, Tayloe said.

"But you can imagine if you're getting between 1,600 and 1,700 deliveries a year, we're going to have a lot of babies that need two vaccines," he said.

Being at the mercy of the state also creates problems for the pediatric offices as far as uniformity, Tayloe said.

"We're kind of bound by what the manufacturer does," he said. "We're patiently waiting, but we're not happy about it."

While the vaccine is expected to be in place by next week, Tayloe said there is a possibility that some will be administered sooner than that.

"We may roll it out in Goldsboro this week because we're tired of waiting," he said.