McKinley out of in-demand flu vaccine until further notice

By Amanda Graf

Roll up your sleeves, wince at the quick stick of pain, slap on a Band-Aid, and you’ve just greatly reduced your risk of spending this winter with a fever, aches, chills or worse — full-blown pneumonia.

Receiving a flu shot may seem easy, but the complex supply process for the widely requested vaccine has made it harder for students on campus to avoid the flu. Because of distribution problems, McKinley Health Center will not be offering flu vaccines until further notice.

In October, The Daily Illini reported that McKinley received 1,000 flu shot vaccines through an arrangement with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District in Urbana and Christie Clinic in Champaign. Dr. Robert Palinkas, director of McKinley Health Center, said the shots were available to students with high-risk health problems, like asthma, diabetes and weakened immune systems.

Palinkas also said approximately 1,400 students on campus fell into these categories, but it was not certain that all of these students would want a vaccine or seek one specifically from McKinley.

Now almost midway through November, Dr. David Lawrance, medical director at McKinley, said the health center has stopped giving flu shots because they are waiting for the second half of their order from distributors to be delivered. Lawrance said the shipment was ordered six months ago and was to be delivered in October, but has not arrived. He said it could arrive at any time.

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    An article released on Nov. 6 by the American Medical Association said 115 million doses of the vaccine will be available by the end of flu season, but the amount manufactured does not always correlate with the amount delivered. According to AMNews, an American Medical Association publication, the vaccine is in such high demand that the distribution process must happen in phases.

    LAS sophomore Anne Rivas wanted to get a shot from McKinley but missed the period when they were available.

    “Ever since I started getting them, I don’t get sick as much,” said Rivas, who, like most students, does not fall into a high-risk category but also does not want to waste time being sick. She will not wait for McKinley’s distributors to deliver more vaccine.

    “I’ll get one at home over Thanksgiving break, rather than wait until I get sick again. It’s a very beneficial thing,” Rivas said.

    Luckily for those in the high-risk categories and those who want to avoid the illness, it has been a mild year for the flu. According to the Center for Disease Control’s Web site, the number of influenza-related deaths or patients reporting “influenza-like illness” have been “below baseline levels.”

    As of Nov. 4, the center reports that there has been no influenza activity in Illinois.

    However, there are still flu shots available in the Champaign-Urbana area. Rick Ingram, a Christie Clinic pharmacist, said that although their shipment of flu shots were late, they have now arrived.

    The clinic, located at 1801 W. Windsor Rd., will have its next walk-in flu shot clinics on Dec. 5 and Dec. 7, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

    Anyone in the community can receive the vaccine, and the cost is $30.