H1N1, Seasonal flu vaccines in short supply across Region 8

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

PIGGOTT, AR (KAIT) - Hospitals and health departments across the Region 8 viewing area are becoming increasingly concerned about the H1N1 virus and vaccination. According to Piggott Community Hospital, there have been no doses of H1N1 vaccinations delivered to Clay County and it has only received 500 doses of seasonal vaccination.

"Any patients that come in right now, we don't have it available to them. We only got 500 doses and we usually get 1,000. We've been limited on the amount of people that we can give it to," said Judy Nettles.

Nettles has been a nurse for more than 25 years. She currently works as Infection Control Case Manager. She told Region 8 News Friday that 200 patients have been diagnosed with flu-like symptoms over the last month.

"My major concern is the fact that our emergency room staff has not gotten any chance of getting a vaccination against the H1N1," said Nettles.

Nettles said the state of Arkansas has not delivered requested vaccinations due to short supply.

"I'm very proud of them for taking on the children first, but I also am concerned about the employees here at the hospital. We are exposed and in turn, we expose other patients," said Nettles.

Nettles said the production of H1N1 vaccines has caused a delay in the number of seasonal vaccine deliveries.

"There must be a shortage. That's all I can think of because there would not be a reason for them to go ahead and ship it because we order way in advance for the seasonal flu," said Nettles. "By the time you get the flu shot, most people will have already had it, and therein lies the question. Are you going to take it or not because you feel like you might have had the flu, but it is important that you go ahead and have them treat it because there's no way to know if you've had it."

Nettles said the hospital staff has taken steps to minimize the amount of contact they have with patients with flu symptoms. Nettles said the most vital area is the emergency room.

"We do every day. As long as we take our precautions, good hand washing. Really that, I mean, you don't know what will come through those ER doors, any type of illness. So you're exposed every day," said Tammye Hendrix, a registered nurse.

Hendrix said patients who come through the emergency room are sent to an isolated area away from other patients. Nurses and doctors wear masks when dealing with patients with the flu.

"They're put in a mask and then they brought to the triage area of our ER, and the triage person. They are masked also," said Hendrix. "We have a smaller waiting room that we put them in also to keep them isolated in one area."

Hendrix said residents of Clay County do not need to panic.

"They just need to remember that this is a type of flu. I think they are really scared about it because of all the publicity that its received but I think if they treat it at home and handle it like any other flu case, they'll be fine," said Hendrix.

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