TUPELO – Trouble with flu shot shipments derailed next Tuesday’s Live Well health fair, but flu vaccine is still widely available at local clinics and pharmacies.
The 17th annual health fair organized by North Mississippi Medical Center Community Health traditionally draws thousands for free flu shots, health screenings and wellness information. On Wednesday, organizers were alerted that their distributor would not be able to ship the vaccines in time for the fair.
“If we can get the flu vaccine in the next few weeks, we may organize a flu shot day so we can still offer the free shots,” said Liz Dawson, director of NMMC Community Health. “Unfortunately, everything depends on availability, and right now we just don’t know.”
In 2012, NMMC, with help from Mississippi State Department of Health nurses, gave out more than 4,000 flu vaccines at the Live Well Health Fair.
NMMC Community Health had scheduled the annual 2013 Live Well Health Fair a month earlier than the 2012 fair as public health officials are urging people to get a flu vaccine earlier.
“The vaccine has changed,” over the years, Dawson said. “It covers you for longer than it used to.”
The vaccine for the Live Well Fair was ordered months ago, and Dawson is still waiting for a full explanation about why it didn’t ship on time. One email from the distributor referenced the FDA not releasing the vaccine, but it isn’t clear if the federal government shutdown is the cause of the trouble, she said.
Although some health organizations are still waiting to receive their flu vaccine shipments, flu vaccine is available around the area at pharmacies and physician offices, including NMMC clinics.
Vaccine is expected to be available at county health departments later this month, said Mississippi State epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs.