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Texas

Flu Vaccine Delivery Delayed to Some Texas Providers

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Photo by Sanofi Pasteur http://www.flickr.com/photos/sanofi-pasteur/

Students and employees at the University of Texas at Austin will be able to get flu shots on campus today. But the vaccine has arrived later than usual.

“The campaign was planned to kick off September the 23, but we were unable to get sufficient vaccine at that time, so our first clinic was October second,” says Sherry Bell an outreach coordinator with UT Austin health services.

The University is one of many places in the US and Canada to see delays in the delivery of the vaccine this year.  The hold up has been blamed on regulatory action against some vaccine manufacturers, and the slow growth of one strain of flu.

“Yeah, apparently they’re covering a strain named after Panama, this year they’re having a little more difficulty covering that strain of virus,” says Dr. Grant Fowler, a professor of family and community medicine at UT medical school at Houston.

Not everyone has experienced late deliveries. Dr Fowler, in Houston, has not noticed them. The Austin Regional Clinic said it has full orders of flu vaccine, except the preservative-free variety often given to children and pregnant women. The clinic has received a partial order of that vaccine. This reporter received a flu shot at a local HEB over the weekend and was told there was no delay there either.

Coleen Christian, Health Educator with the city of Austin, says the City has experienced delayed deliveries and is still waiting for "a few doses to come in."

“Traditionally everybody is filled around the same time," says Christian. "This year it’s been different. But I haven’t had any information from the manufacturers of who received what and when and why there was a short delay this year.”

Christian says City of Austin vaccine clinics have not been disrupted by the delays.

At UT Austin Sherry Bell says the school has enough vaccine for three clinics.  Other clinics are listed on the school's website as "pending," depending on the arrival of the vaccine.

Putting off a flu shot increases the likelihood of coming down with a flu, But Dr. Fowler, at UT Medical School Houston, says delays are unlikely to cause a major increase in Texas cases this year.  That’s because some people get their shots later in the winter anyway, and flu season peaks in Texas around January or February.

"From a public health perspective the flu is hugely more important to me than Ebola, I mean you're more likely to be struck by lightning than get Ebola in the US, but every year we lose people due to cardiovascular events [related to the flu]" says Dr. Fowler.