CU Public Health District waits on flu vaccine order, McKinley offers free vaccines

By Eric Fries

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD) has not yet received its order of injectable flu vaccines this year due to distribution problems with the vaccine, although it is offering a nasal spray, which may not be as effective.

A nurse at the CUPHD said it should be receiving its order of vaccines sometime this week.

Students and faculty seeking flu shots, however, have many other options available.

McKinley Health Center is offering free flu vaccinations to students Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“We do not have an issue with the shortages at all,” said Vicky Burkhalter, influenza campaign coordinator at McKinley.

Barry Grodsky, McKinley pharmacy director, said it has not experienced any delays or shortages because it ordered the vaccines in January.

“My understanding is that a lot of the vaccines aren’t even shipping until the end of this month, so there are a lot of places that have not got any vaccine yet,” he said.

Thanks to the January pre-order, McKinley received its 15,000 doses at the end of September, Grodsky said.

There have been concerns in past years over the vaccine supply, Grodsky said, explaining that there are only four or five companies that make the vaccines, and any recall or problem with production can cause shortages.

Grodsky said mild side effects from the vaccine are not uncommon, but unless a patient is allergic to a component of the vaccine, people should not expect to suffer from severe reactions. Grodsky said McKinley uses a preservative-free vaccine, which reduces the chance of allergic reactions.

McKinley does not offer the nasal spray vaccine because of its doubts about the spray’s effectiveness.

Grodsky said more than half of the vaccine for this year is already gone.

The number of vaccinations administered by McKinley has steadily increased over the past seven years. Burkhalter said over 8,500 doses have been given out so far this year. “Everyone’s getting the flu this year, so I probably should get it,” said Danielle Raquet, sophomore in DGS.

CVS Pharmacies in Champaign-Urbana are also offering the vaccine, and have had no shortage of the normal dose. However, as of Wednesday, the pharmacy did not have the high dose vaccine, which is intended for people over 65.

The vaccine can also be obtained from Carle Foundation Hospital’s community flu clinic, located at 1702 S. Mattis Ave. in Champaign.

“Supply varies from year-to-year, but Carle has ample supply of flu vaccine to meet community needs,” said Jennifer Kaufmann, public relations manager for Carle.

“We received two shipments of FluMist nasal vaccine last week, and have a significant amount of regular vaccine on hand, with another 10,000 doses en-route for this week,” said Kaufmann.

Burkhalter said she recommends that students get vaccinated. She added that contracting the flu could cause a student to miss classes for as long as a week.

“My personal opinion is the flu shot is here, it’s easy, and it’s convenient,” she said. “I would wonder why you wouldn’t get the flu shot,” she said.

Eric can be reached at [email protected]