Flu Vaccine Shortage Hits Region 8

December 10, 2003 -- Posted at 11:45pm

JONESBORO, AR - Officials at the Arkansas Health Department expect to run out of influenza vaccine after this week, and, for now, there's no means available to get more. Matthew Jacobs got one of the few remaining shots available at a clinic on Highway 141.

"...because a couple of weeks ago he was in the hospital," said Ned Jacobs, Jr., Matthew's father. "Me and my wife seen it on the news one night, and it really concerned us quite a bit."

Dr. Zshvetta Jones, MD, a family practice physician in Jonesboro commented, "with the increased exposure of those cases that had complications and resulted in death already, it spurred more people to want it than usual, and then that limited the supply."

Young children, the elderly and those with already weakened immune systems are the most susceptible. However, Dr. Jones said most of her cases have been school-aged children. She thinks closer contact in classrooms is the reason.

The most common flu symptoms include fever, headache, dry cough, sore throat, muscle aches, a runny or stuffed nose and extreme fatigue. If you have these symptoms, see your doctor within 24 hours of the illnesses' onset.

If you've been diagnosed with the flu, stay home, rest and drink plenty of fluids. If you live with someone who has it... stay away. Everyone should wash their hands and wash often.

A flu shot last year may have helped keep Matthew Jacobs well. If your doctor is out of his or her supply, an alternative is FluMist. There are about 4 million doses available, but it will cost you more than the needle-administered type. For procrastinators, it may be the only option.

Medical professionals being administering the influenza vaccine in October and November.