Some flu vaccines will be delayed in Hillsborough County

A nationwide shortage of the H1N1 flu vaccine is affecting Hillsborough County.

SKIP O’ROURKE | Times

A nationwide shortage of the H1N1 flu vaccine is affecting Hillsborough County.

TAMPA — A delay in shipping the swine flu vaccine means just nine of the 14 Hillsborough County schools will go through with the inoculations next week, the county health department said Wednesday.

The Hillsborough County Health Department says it will be giving 100,000 fewer vaccinations in the next three weeks and 11 percent less overall.

However, officials say the overall plan for school vaccinations will still be carried out.

"I believe that (school vaccinations) will be still done by the end of the year, it's just the biggest push should be ... (in) mid-November," said Steve Huard, a health department spokesman.

The shortage is nationwide, Huard said, and Hillsborough County will continue to focus on priority groups such as pregnant women and young people.

But the lack of supply has caused a reduction in scale.

Hospitals, obstetricians, and pediatricians who have ordered the 2009 H1N1 vaccine will receive doses, the department said.

Middle and high school students at the nine selected schools will get doses during school hours. Plans for elementary students to get H1N1 vaccinations during after-school clinics at high schools have been postponed, the department said Wednesday.

Florida had received 242,700 doses of the vaccine as of Oct. 14, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 15,000 doses came to Hillsborough County, the health department reported.

In Pasco County, the supply drop has not severely altered plans for school vaccinations, health department spokeswoman Deanna Krautner said.

The county has already distributed 11,000 vaccines for its priority groups: pregnant women, caregivers and family of children younger than 6 months, people who are 6 months to 24 years old, those between the ages of 25 and 64 with chronic medical conditions, and health care workers who provide direct patient care.

"We have plans to go into the schools in the first couple of weeks of November," Krautner said. "We've given out information and consent forms to students, but we have don't have those dates scheduled yet."

Until then, Pasco health officials will be giving the vaccine tonight for those in the priority groups, she said.

Huard said Hillsborough will make weekly assessments about how to distribute new shipments.

"I encourage (pregnant) women to contact their doctors office to find out if it is available," Huard said.

The CDC reports that the federal government bought 250 million doses of H1N1 vaccine and approximately 29 million doses of licensed vaccine may be available by the end of this month. But the agency cautioned, "Vaccine availability, however, depends on many factors so these numbers will be frequently updated."

Huard said every Hillsborough County resident who would like to get the vaccine should be able to eventually do so.

Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at (813) 226-3373 or rmitchell@sptimes.com.

fast facts

In Pasco tonight

Pasco County residents who are in one of the priority groups can get their H1N1 vaccines from 5:30 to 8:30 tonight at 10841 Little Road in New Port Richey or 13941 15th Street in Dade City. Supplies are limited, so both shots and nasal mists will be first come, first served.

Call the Health Department at (727) 861-5250 ext. 225 for more information.

Some flu vaccines will be delayed in Hillsborough County 10/22/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 22, 2009 1:08am]

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