Hospitals run short on seasonal flu vaccine

October 1, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The H1N1 vaccine will soon be widely available and certainly that's reassuring news, but that comes at a price. The rush to produce swine flu vaccine is hurting production of the seasonal variety and swine flu could create another problem for the health care system.

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The H1N1 vaccine will be available on Tuesday, but while manufacturers rush to meet that deadline, hospitals have noticed an unexpected fallout.

"Most of the vaccine manufacturers shifted their production from seasonal flu vaccine to the H1N1. certainly there is a lot of concern about H1N1, but we can't forget that each year, seasonal flu kills 30,000 and 40,000 people," says Leslie Kelsay from Good Samaritan Hospital.

At Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, fewer seasonal flu vaccine shipments are coming in. Now, hospital staffers are forced to go to local drug stores for their own flu shots.

Hospitals could face another problem -- a shortage of hospital beds. According to a report released Thursday, if a swine flu outbreak did occur in California in particular, hospitals could run out of room.

The non-profit Trust For America's Health says 14 other states will be in the same position if a third of the population gets H1N1. Meantime, state school officials reaffirmed, swine flu continues to be a threat to children. They released this manual Thursday. It outlines how public health departments will handle school closures.

"They clearly have the authority and we've been working on collaboratively, as the education community, with local public health to make those decisions," says State Schools Chief Jack O'Connell.

For more on that story click here: Calif. school officials release H1N1 plan

In Santa Clara County more than 140 people have been hospitalized because of swine flu. If numbers continue to rise, some health officials fear they'll be forced to ration ventilators in the case of an extreme pandemic. Federal guidelines have not been established for this.

Two local health departments announced when they will start public H1N1 vaccinations. San Francisco has scheduled two clinics the week of October 26 and Alameda County will hold four Saturday clinics, starting November 7.

Click on the links below for dates and locations. They are also looking for medical volunteers to help administer the vaccines.

LINKS: Help with San Francisco H1N1 vaccine clinics
Alameda County H1N1 vaccine information
Upcoming dates for Alameda County

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