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Vaccine for Flu Scarce Counties May Run Out Soon


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Stronger-than-usual demand for flu shots in Cobb and Douglas counties means local public health officials may run out of this season's vaccine by week's end.

Of about 8,000 doses available at county health centers starting in October, all but 330 had been used by Tuesday. That day, waits for shots were several hours long.

"Generally, we have some vaccine left over," said Cobb and Douglas public health spokesman Matthew Daily. "That's not going to be the case this time around. When that supply's done, we're out."

The nation's two makers of influenza vaccine said last Friday they had run out of the drug because of demand nationally.

Ten states have suffered widespread flu outbreaks, the highest designation given by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Colorado, Texas, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Arkansas, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.

The outbreak has been particularly intense in Colorado, where more than 6,300 people were stricken in the past month and six children under age 16 have died. So far, Georgia's flu season is considered less severe, though state officials have recommended that "high-risk" people be vaccinated, including adults over age 50, children ages 6 months to 23 months, people with chronic diseases, caregivers of these groups and women who will be more than 3 months pregnant during the flu season.

Typical influenza symptoms include fever, body aches, tiredness, cough, sore throat and runny nose. To decrease the chance of getting sick, health officials recommend that people wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their nose, eyes, and mouth.

They also advise covering the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing --- with some officials recommending sneezing or coughing into a shirt or coat sleeve to avoid getting any discharge on the hands --- and staying home from work or school when sick. > For more information, call the Cobb and Douglas immunization program at 770-514-2307 or go to cobbcountypublichealth.org or douglascountypublichealth.org.

Copyright 2003 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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