New Guidelines Recommend Saving Vaccine for High Risk People

New Guidelines Recommend Saving Vaccine for High Risk People

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Ed Yeates ReportingNational health officials say this year's flu outbreak isn't spreading, it's leaping. The number of cases has nearly doubled since last week and the virus is now considered widespread in 24 states, including Utah.

Widespread or not, the flu still hasn't reached its peak and cases are expected to increase in the next few weeks. The early outbreak has already dried up vaccine supplies.

Even though additional doses were brought today to Salt Lake Valley Heath Department's Southeast Clinic there's not much vaccine left. For days now, people have been coming to this clinic, hoping when the vaccine runs dry they're not among those left without a shot.

Salt Lake Valley Health Department has been handing out numbers to keep the line on a first come, first serve basis.

One mother, hoping to get shots for herself and her children, told us someone even offered to buy her number.

Melinda Stimpson: "I had just gotten my number and I was number a hundred an thirty nine, and a lady came up and offered to pay me twenty dollars to buy my number. I didn't sell it to her because at that point they didn't think they would even have serum that high."

Nationally, as of today, new guidelines are recommending what's left in vaccine be saved now for those over the age of 65, the very young, pregnant women, and those diagnosed with specific high risk conditions. That means older children who were scheduled to get a second booster shot may not get one now.

The Utah State Health Department is reviewing those guidelines and will probably make its own recommendation within the next several days.

In a worse case scenario, if influenza continues blossoming well into January and February - in the absence of vaccine - public health agencies may begin asking for a voluntary curtailment of public functions and gatherings, such as concerts, and other major events.

But it could go the other way too. Influenza might peak in another several weeks and just fade away. Nobody can make a prediction at this point.

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