Houston Housing Inc. has announced a flu shot clinic.

The most sought after item in Texas County this week appears to be a seasonal flu shot.

The Texas County Health Department reported Tuesday that 1,660 doses were nearly gone after the first of four clinics that began last Thursday. Carolyn Bell, R.N., at the health department, said another 640 doses are on order.

Waiting for the swine flu vaccine? Well, you might have to wait a bit longer.

The biggest makers of seasonal flu vaccines in the U.S. are running into delays or cutting back shipments – partly because of the crunch to produce millions of doses of the new swine flu vaccine.

Drugmaker Sanofi Pasteur said it has shipped more than half of the 50.5 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine ordered and it could be November before some U.S. customers get the rest of their shipments.

Novartis AG and GlaxoSmithKline PLC said last Thursday their shipments are on schedule. But they’ve told customers they may get about 10 percent less than ordered.

The three companies account for about 100 million of the nation’s expected 114 million doses.

A nasal spray for the H1N1 virus – commonly known as swine flu – arrived this week at the health department. They are targeted for medical providers and children ages 2-4. Other high-risk groups are healthcare providers and household contacts with infants less than six months old. It is hoped that the next shipment will go toward pregnant women, another high-risk group for the H1N1 virus.

Those looking to receive either shot – but can’t get it through the health department – might want to check with their own medical provider, Bell said.

The delay and cutbacks have already forced some doctors’ offices to turn away patients and others to cancel clinics around the country.

The delay isn’t surprising nor cause for big concern, said Tom Skinner, spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 70 million of the expected 114 million doses already have been delivered, he said.

Typically fewer than 100 million Americans seek winter flu shots every year. But health care providers say early demand appears to be higher this year because of public attention to the swine flu pandemic.

Also, vaccinations for seasonal flu started unusually early this year, Skinner said. October is the traditional time when seasonal flu vaccine clinics open. Outbreaks can happen earlier, but the flu usually peaks in January or later.

“People may have to be patient and persistent” to find out when they can get the seasonal vaccine, he said.

Here’s a link to the state health department’s flu webpage: http://www.dhss.mo.gov/BT_Response/_H1N1Flu.html

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