BU Today

Health & Wellness

’Tis the season for flu shots

Lagging production means those at risk get priority

With the flu season upon us, the scramble is under way to find available vaccine. As fast as it comes off the production lines of the four different manufacturers, it’s being scooped up and distributed by health-care providers.

The Boston University Occupational Health Center, for example, quickly used all the vaccine it has received this season. Both the BUOHC and Student Health Services expect to get more vaccine over the next few weeks, as do other providers.

But this means that the Thanksgiving break benchmark comes without many faculty, staff, and students having gotten flu shots. Not to panic, says Cheryl Barbanel, BUOHC director.

“The at-risk population is being accommodated, and that is the priority,” she says. “Most providers got about half the vaccine that they ordered. Right now we have none. But as was the case last year, we expect there will be plenty in the pipeline, so there’s no need to worry. Meantime, we recommend you check with your primary care doctors back home during the holiday to see if they are currently stocked.”

Because of the lagging supply line, priority groups are first in line for flu shots, at BU and elsewhere. These groups generally include those 65 years and older, those with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, health-care personnel who provide direct patient care, children 6 to 23 months of age, and household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age or adults 65 years and older.

According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics, some 10 to 20 percent of the U.S. population contracts influenza each year. For more information, see the CDC’s Web site at www.cdc.gov/flu or the American Lung Association’s Web site at www.lungusa.org.

Besides getting a flu shot, here are a few tips for avoiding the spread of flu: