GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - Grand Canyon health care officials said they were forced to cancel a number of planned flu shot clinics due to a national shortage in seasonal flu vaccines. The cancellation of seasonal flu shots, however, does not affect H1N1 vaccines, which are still expected to arrive in November. According to MD Andrew Saal, chief medical officer for North Country HealthCare, the order for flu vaccines was cancelled due to a manufacturing shortage. He said flu vaccinations for children are also no longer being offered.
"We are doing our best to purchase additional flu vaccines on the open market, but for the time being seasonal flu is being reserved for people at the highest risk," Saal said. "We apologize to the people at Grand Canyon. We are facing a nationwide shortage of seasonal flu vaccine."
Despite an order for 10,000 vaccines for general distribution, Saal said North Country will not receive any vaccines unless a supply can be found from an additional vendor.
"We ordered 10,000 and we are getting zero from the two companies we agreed to purchase from," Saal said. "We are now scrambling through the market trying to purchase any orders we can. There are two kinds of flu vaccines. We will be swimming in H1N1 by November. H1N1 is not a problem. Seasonal flu is a problem. Seasonal flu still kills 36,000 per year."
For more information, call the Grand Canyon Clinic at (928) 638-2551.
According to nationwide reports, the shortage of seasonal flu vaccines is being attributed to the demand for H1N1 vaccines. Many companies, including a number of the top five producers of flu vaccines, stopped manufacturing seasonal flu vaccinations early in order to step up production of the H1N1 vaccine, according to reports. With high demand for both flu vaccines in 2009, the shortage is being felt by many across the nation.
Officials with the Coconino County Health Department (CCHD), meanwhile, are reporting a low stock when it comes to the availability of seasonal flu shots. High demand for the shots is being blamed for the shortage. Vaccine delivery dates have also been slower than expected, according to county health officials. Though future flu clinics are still planned, health officials are not currently scheduling flu shots. Seasonal flu vaccines for children are still available, however. Appointments for children's seasonal flu shots, as well as questions on future adult clinics, can be made by calling the CCHD Flu Information Line at (928) 679-7300.