Local flu vaccines are going fast
• Health Department gets shipment, but is close to having dispersed them all, still trying to get more
By Faye Ellison
Jefferson County recently received shipments of the flu vaccine, but supplies are going fast.
Last week, the Jefferson County Health Department received a shipment of the flu vaccines, but is close to having dispersed them all. Health Department Director Janet Pilcher said they ordered more this year than in the past.
"We usually only give out about 500 doses," she said. "But this year we ordered about 700 and we are still trying to get more."
Pilcher said she doubts the Health Department will see another shipment of the shots.
Delays have been prevalent throughout the United States. Some counties in Georgia had received shots earlier, while others still wait for shipments.
Last year, there was a shortage in the vaccines due to contamination at one of the leading suppliers of the shots. Though there is no major shortage of vaccines this year, their arrival has been late.
The Health Department administered 330 doses just during last week, according to Pilcher.
"We got as much extra as possible," Pilcher said. "We have been giving them out left and right."
Jefferson Hospital Pharmacist Trish Rooks said that the arrival of the vaccines has been on hold due to supply and demand. The supplier the hospital uses, Sante Fe Pasture, is supplying much of the United States orders.
"The company we usually get our vaccines from doesn't produce nearly enough," Rooks said. "Since the other major supplier had a contamination last year everybody has jumped over to Sante Fe Pasture."
Jefferson Hospital will distribute vaccines to Physician's Health Group in Louisville, Wadley and Wrens. Rooks said they ordered 1,600 doses of the vaccine. The shipment should be in next week and ready to be dispersed.
Sante Fe Pasture only produces 60 million doses, while the company that had a contamination last year was supposed to produce the other half, according to Rooks. They produced only about 30 percent of their committed vaccines. Rooks said it seems they will not come through with the other 70 percent.
Also Glaxo-Smith-Kline has begun producing the vaccine this year, but there is no promise of an increase.
Rooks noted that one reason there is a rush to get the flu shot is because of the Asian Bird Flu, which is not covered by the flu vaccine administered now.
"This year there is a lot of worry about the bird flu," she said. "This vaccine does not protect against the bird flu, and there is no vaccine for it yet."
Doctors recommended that all high-risk individuals get the vaccination in October, when they were scarce in Jefferson County. Those include children between six and 23 months, those older than 65, women who are pregnant, those with chronic illnesses and those in close contact with these individuals.
They also recommend that citizens wash their hands frequently whether at home, school or work, avoid close contact with those who are ill, stay home from work or school if you have the flu and cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze.
Flu symptoms include a fever of 103 to 105 that lasts three to six days, cough, sore throat, headache, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea and muscle aches.
Annually about 31,000 people die from the flu; most are from the high risk categories.
Fire fighters save Wrens cabinet shop
• Quick response by numerous units contain blaze that could have been disastrous
By Ben Roberts
It's the thought of what could have been that's frightening.
Shortly before 10:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 14, units from four county fire departments responded to a fire at the Wrens Cabinet & Supply Co. at the intersections of Twin Oaks Road, Campground Road and U.S. Highway 1.
A spokesman for the Wrens Fire Department said the blaze was contained quickly and only a small area around an electrical box suffered actual fire damage. There was a significant amount of smoke and heat damage throughout the rest of the building, however.
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"This was a large building with a lot of wood and different lacquers and other chemicals," the spokesman said. "There was a large potential for damage."
Firefighters credit the quick response of both the property owners who reported the fire and that of their units to keeping the damage at far less than what it could have been.
Units from Wrens, Matthews, Stapleton and Hillcrest all responded to the call.
The actual cause of the fire is still under investigation at this time.