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Paynesville Press - October 3, 2001

PAHCS has flu vaccines

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville Area Health Care System has doses of the flu vaccine on hand and will begin vaccinations in late October.

Last year, manufacturing difficulties led to delays and shortages of the vaccine. This year, PAHCS will have more than enough vaccine to immunize its patients against influenza, said Rosemary Devlin, clinic manager for PAHCS.

PAHCS has as much vaccine on hand as it can hold in its refrigerators, Devlin added. Half of its order of 2,500 doses has been delivered and is being stored at the facility. The other 1,250 doses are being held by PAHCS's supplier and will be available as soon as needed.

Once again, health officials are urging at-risk patients, elderly, health care staff, residents of long-term care facilities, and the general public to get the vaccine.

Last year, due to the shortage, the vaccines were distributed according to a priority list, resulting in many people scrambling to get the vaccine wherever they could.

This will not be necessary this year, stressed Devlin. "It's right here in Paynesville," she said. "We have it in-house."

Distribution of the flu vaccine will be back to normal this year, starting after Monday, Oct. 15.

Since the vaccine provides passive immunity for three months, it should not be distributed too early, explained Dr. Bob Gardner, chief of staff at PAHCS. "If you vaccinate too early, you miss the peak time in January and February," he said.

Gardner said they plan to vaccinate at the Koronis Manor in early November.

PAHCS is hosting walk-in flu shot clinics in late October for the public to come and get the vaccine without any appointments. Walk-in clinics will be held at the Paynesville Area Medical Center on Saturday, Oct. 20, from 9-11:30 a.m.; on Tuesday, Oct. 23, from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; and on Saturday, Oct. 27, from 9-11:30 a.m.

The vaccination is usually covered by insurance, said Devlin, or will be offered at a cash price below PAHCS's cost.

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