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Ed Yeates ReportingThough the CDC was angered that Utah broke ranks with its restrictions on flu vaccine last November, other states are wishing tonight they had done the same thing. The vaccine shortage has now become a vaccine surplus.
Melissa Stevens, Epidemiologist, State Health: “We do have 152 cases reported, which have been reported in the past week, so we do see an upswing.”
In the actual number of people sick with flu right now, it's almost impossible to measure whether Utah is better off than other states. But in how we used the vaccine over the past four months, Utah may end up a winner.
Linda Abel, Immunization Program Manager, State Health Dept.: “We always knew that about Thanksgiving, the first of December, we were going to relax and open it up, which we did.”
Utah evaluated its own situation and broke ranks with the CDC's shortage guidelines in November, allowing anybody who wanted a shot to get one. To date, only six other states have followed suit. For others like Alabama, Tennessee, or California - count the doses!
Linda Abel: “The Kaiser System in California has over 40,000 of the vaccine that they’re offering up.”
Utah also has flu vaccine left, but not as much as other states. In fact, when the season ends here there will be very little wasted vaccine, about as much as the state has had in past years when there were NO shortages.
At Winegar's market in North Salt Lake, the Davis County Health Department set up an in store clinic, offering the vaccine at sort of a half price sale of $10 per shot. Even so, there were very few takers.
Linda Abel: “I’ve offered to give some vaccine to other states and ten states turned me down that I called.”
Utah even gave up some of its allocation to New York and other high population states, and still has some left. So, while we're well into the season, there's still time - still shots available. So much for the shortage!