ROCKPORT, Maine — Some local flu shot clinics scheduled for next week have been canceled because of a delay in the national distribution of seasonal flu vaccine.
The delay has been caused by the efforts to produce and distribute vaccines for both the seasonal flu strain and the new H1N1 strain, said Cheryl Liechty, an infectious-disease specialist at Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport.
“We were not anticipating any shortages on the seasonal flu vaccine, but we are running into that challenge now,” Liechty said. “It’s really an issue about competing resources. We’re not anticipating that at the end of the day we’ll get less seasonal flu vaccine than we’ve asked for.”
Canceled clinics were scheduled for Oct. 2 at Damariscotta Region Chamber of Commerce, Oct. 8 at Camden Hills Regional High School and Oct. 9 at the Medomak Valley High School campus in Waldoboro.
Pen Bay Healthcare officials did not yet know whether the next week’s clinics would run as scheduled.
Liechty said the next batch of vaccine should be delivered by the end of October or early November.
“That’s not too late in terms of seasonal flu,” she said. “Seasonal flu in Maine does not tend to pick up until after Thanksgiving.”
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends annual seasonal influenza vaccination for adults older than 50, pregnant women, caregivers of infants younger than 6 months, adults with certain chronic medical conditions, health care workers, and all children ages 6 months to 18 years.
The H1N1 vaccination is recommended for all people ages 6 months to 24 years, pregnant women, caregivers of infants younger than 6 months, health care workers, and adults ages 25-64 with certain chronic medical conditions.
Liechty, a mother of young children, said she has noticed that many of her peers are more concerned about the potential risks of vaccines than about the flu virus.
“I worry, because I think there’s a lot of disinformation floating around on these issues,” she said. “That makes it a challenge. Both the federal CDC and the Maine CDC are working hard to influence people that influenza kills children every year. H1N1 in particular has resulted in a significant number of childhood deaths in this country since spring. In my perspective, a childhood death is unacceptable — and I believe that these vaccines are safe and effective.”
For information about the Pen Bay flu clinics or for flu information, go to www.pbmc.org/flu.