Health Fair Hit By Flu Vaccine Shortage

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Only one glitch managed to rear its head at last Saturday's Second Annual Lion's Community Health Fair 2000. But that was enough to disappoint the 300-some attendees who had lined up for flu shots.

There were none to be had.

The flu vaccine shortage which has raged across the nation for the past few months finally arrived in Payson.

The Health Fair's organizers had expected a limited supply of the vaccine but they got none, leaving them with no alternative but to hand out rainchecks for a November vaccination drive.

"We regret it, but we couldn't do a thing about it," said Robert E. Ware, executive director of the Mogollon Health Alliance, a co-sponsor of the event along with the Payson Lion's Club and Payson Regional Medical Center. "If anybody calls my office to ask for a flu-vaccination raincheck, we'll send it out. We want to make sure that everybody who wants one gets one."

The nation's flu vaccine supplies have been so depleted in recent months that many health officials have recommended that immunization campaigns be delayed until November, and that priorities be set on which high-risk groups should get the first shots.

Two factors a slow-growing component of this year's vaccine formulation, along with production problems at two of the four pharmaceutical companies that produce flu vaccine have combined to create the delay, Food and Drug Administration officials have said.

Beyond that problem, Ware said, the Health Fair was a rousing success.

"We had in excess of 500 people, compared to the 451 who came last year, so we had an expansion of our attendance. We had hoped for more; I don't know if the weather was too wonderful, and that kept people away. But it was very well received."

"In the long run, I think we helped assist some people in determining that they have something which needs to be taken care of," Ware said of those who took advantage of the many free medical tests and screenings that were offered. "And some of those people may have had their life saved, or a portion of their bodies saved."

Health Fair attendees who did not receive a flu vaccination raincheck may obtain one by calling Robert Ware at 472-2588.

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