Like many other clinics and doctors nationwide, the Columbia County Health Department anxiously awaited the arrival of more influenza vaccine.
Phyllis Roland, the health department's facility administrator, said delays in the shipment of flu vaccine have been frustrating.
"We've had to redo our entire flu (vaccine) schedule," Roland said, adding she was forced to cancel most of the 14 flu vaccine clinics scheduled for October because of a shortage of vaccine.
Of the 110 million to 115 million flu vaccine doses promised by manufacturers, 77 million have been distributed, according to the national Centers for Disease Control. The late arrival means many residents had not been vaccinated before Thanksgiving.
On Wednesday, Roland's office received the last shipment of the 3,500 flu vaccine doses she ordered. The health department will be holding four flu vaccine clinics, while supplies last, throughout the county this week in recognition of National Influenza Vaccination Week. Vaccines cost $20 each and Medicaid and Medicare Part B are accepted.
"We want them to come out," Roland said of those not vaccinated in Columbia County.
According to the Georgia Division of Public Health, the state's first two cases of the flu were reported in Cobb and Bartow counties this past week. Even though the flu season has begun, it is not too late to get vaccinated.
"This is just the beginning," Roland said of the flu season, which often lasts from November through March, peaking in January or February. "It is not too late to get it by any means."
Roland said Thanksgiving is a time when family members often travel and share the flu virus. Shortly after Thanksgiving, the number of reported flu cases usually grows dramatically.
Roland said receiving the flu vaccine was much easier several years ago before there were distribution problems and recalls. She could place the department's order and have the entire shipment in hand by the first of October, set up clinics and give out the vaccine until it was gone.
For more information on flu vaccine clinics, call the Health Department at (706) 541-1318.
Also, Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center is offering flu vaccine to military retirees and their family members from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Family Medicine Clinic on the second floor. Retirees and family members wishing to receive the flu shot must have a valid military ID.
- Tuesday: 2 to 6 p.m. at Augusta Preparatory Day School on Flowing Wells Road in Martinez
- Thursday: 3 to 6 p.m. at Greenbrier High School on Riverwood Parkway in Evans; 3 to 6 p.m. at Harlem High School on Appling-Harlem Highway in Harlem and 3 to 6 p.m. at Lakeside High School on Blue Ridge Drive in Evans.
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