H1N1 vaccine in short supply

Most Islanders hoping to receive an H1N1 shot at their physician's offices and avoid the flu will have to find the shot elsewhere or continue practicing patience — and a lot of hand washing.

Vashon Plaza Medical Clinic has the lion’s share of the vaccine on the Island, but so far it is intended only for the highest risk patients at that clinic, staff members there said.

The Vashon Health Center, which serves the largest number of people on the Island, does not have any vaccine and does not expect any until one or two weeks from now, according to Rita Cannell, the manager of the clinic.

Vashon Family Practice is continuing to keep a list of people who want the vaccine, but so far, it has received none and is working with Seattle-King County Public Health to determine when they will receive their first shipment.

Dr. Chad Magnuson hopes to travel to Seattle on Thursday to pick up his first doses. He is unsure how many doses he will receive, he said — maybe only 10. If he gets a sizeable number, he plans to hold a flu shot clinic for his patients.

At Vashon Natural Medicine, Dr. Kelly Wright received a small portion of the vaccine order for patients of her clinic and encourages patients with questions to call for more information.

By the end of the week, county public health officials expect to have 67,000 more doses of the vaccine in providers’ offices and pharmacies.

This shortage of the vaccine is a nationwide problem stemming from production delays and fueling concerns among many in the health care world.

Public health officials, meanwhile, say they are trying to distribute the limited vaccine fairly and efficiently.

They also say they hope people will get themselves vaccinated as soon as they can to keep the flu's spread as minimal as possible. The New York Times recently reported that when half of the children in a community are vaccinated, the rate of illness goes down by two-thirds.

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