Flu vaccine shortfall no problem because many shun inoculations

Though top officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stressed Thursday that they want everyone older than 6 months of age to get a flu shot to prevent sickness and death, they also said only enough vaccine will be available for about half of the nation’s more than 310 million people.

But that won’t be a problem, the health officials suggested during a Washington, D.C., teleconference with news media across the nation.

Misconceptions about what a flu shot does — such as causing an individual to get the flu — continue to keep people from being vaccinated, said Dr. Daniel Jernigan, deputy director of the CDC’s influenza division.

Having enough vaccine for everyone, the health officials said, would only mean that much of it would have to be thrown away.

There is no problem in Las Vegas finding the flu vaccine. Retail pharmacies have had it for more than a month. And the Southern Nevada Health District begins to offer flu shots on Monday.

The good news is that unlike last year, when public health officials advised people to get both a seasonal flu shot and one for the H1N1 virus, one shot covers the three flu strains that have circulated from July through September — H1N1, H3N2, and Influenza B.

That public health officials have a difficult time convincing even half the nation to get flu shots doesn’t surprise a longtime Las Vegas physician.

"I can only convince about 50 percent of my patients to get a flu shot," said Dr. Ivan Goldsmith, an internist who has a sign in the lobby of his Flamingo Road office advertising flu shots. "The problem you have is trying to convince people that there isn’t a government conspiracy. They always bring up what happened with the swine flu in the 1970s."

After a Fort Dix, N.J., soldier died in February 1976 and more than 200 other recruits were quickly infected with a flu that scientists feared could be as lethal as the influenza pandemic of 1918 that killed 500,000 Americans and more than 50 million people worldwide, the CDC began a mass inoculation effort that went terribly wrong.

Twenty-five people died and hundreds of others were permanently paralyzed by the vaccine while only one person died from the flu that was a distant cousin of the 1918 virus.

Those kind of problems were corrected long ago, Goldsmith said, noting that there were no hitches with the H1N1 vaccine that was rushed into production last year to combat another flu strain that was loosely related to the 1918 virus. But he said many people remain scared, no doubt because parents have passed on stories to children about what happened during the ’70s.

"It’s time we get over that fear," Goldsmith. "It’s irrational and a lot of people get sick or hospitalized or needlessly die from the flu."

According to the CDC, millions are sickened by the flu each year. As many as 200,000 people are hospitalized annually and deaths associated with the seasonal flu have ranged from 3,349 to 48,614 during the past 30 years.

Retail pharmacies in Las Vegas advertise flu shots from $24 to around $30. The price at the health district will be $32.

The reason for the price differential isn’t difficult to figure out — buy in quantity from a manufacturer and the price is lower. A retailer such as Walgreens orders millions of doses for stores across the country. The health district got a few thousand.

About half of the health district’s 30,000 doses came at no charge from the CDC to give to uninsured and under-insured children. And as the health district’s Vicki Swanson points out: "If somebody who shows up at the health district doesn’t have any money or insurance, we don’t turn them away. We definitely don’t make a profit. We give a lot of it away to the needy."

At 24 hour drugstores, pharmacists can give shots day and night. But Mike DeAngelis, a spokesman for CVS drugstores, noted that pharmacists can’t give shots to children in Nevada under the age of 9. Nurse practitioners who run drugstore clinics, such as Walgreens’ Take Care and CVS’s Minute Clinic, are able to inoculate children as young as 18 months.

"It is important to remember that the health district is not in competition with retail pharmacies or private practitioners regarding the distribution of flu shots," said Stephanie Bethel, a spokeswoman for the health district. "We encourage people to receive their annual flu shot and if they can locate a source that provides shots at a lesser cost, this is good news. The health district serves as the ‘safety net’ for many when it comes to immunizations of any kind."

H1N1 flu shots were offered free last year, she said, in the wake of the CDC declaring a health emergency.

While spokesmen for Walgreens, CVS and Albertsons say they’re in the business to make a profit, they say profit information about this year’s flu shots is proprietary.

Bethel said the cost of flu vaccine can range between $8.90 and $24.50 per dose from private manufacturers.

Robert Elfinger, a Walgreens spokesman, said the drugstore chain has already reported giving 2.5 million flu shots through Sept. 30 with a goal of 15 million vaccinations in the next year.

At least until this year, health care workers have been roundly criticized for not practicing what they preach when it comes to flu vaccinations.

But in a survey of 400 primary care doctors released at the press conference by Dr. William Schaffner, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, 95 percent of the physicians said they were planning to get a flu shot this year.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, just 40 percent of health care workers generally get vaccinated.

Schaffner said it is now time for everyone who works in a hospital, from security officials and receptionists to nurses and lab workers, to get vaccinated.

"We have to protect our patients," he said.

Dr. Ron Kline, president of the Nevada State Medical Association, said he believes the H1N1 scare last year made a big difference in the way health care workers are dealing with flu vaccinations this year.

"I would say it sensitized people to the issue," he said. "It’s increased support for flu vaccination among health care workers, just as I hope it has among the general public."

Paul Harasim at pharasim@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2908.

Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Law Enforcement Active Shooter Training Exercise
Multiple Las Vegas Valley law enforcement agencies held an active shooter drill at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office on December 6, 2018. Officials set up the training exercise to include multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
Archiving effort hits milestone at Clark County Museum
The Clark County Museum catalogs the final item from the bulk of Route 91 Harvest festival artifacts. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Final Route 91 Harvest festival remembrance objects catalogued at Clark County Museum
The last of the more than 17,000 items left at the makeshift memorial near the Las Vegas sign after the Oct. 1 shootings have been catalogued at the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas. The final item was a black-and-white bumper sticker bearing "#VEGASSTRONG. An additional 200 items currently on display at the museum will be catalogued when the exhibit comes down. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Grand Jury Indicts Constable for theft
A Clark County grand jury indicted Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. A Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation prompted the criminal probe. The newspaper found Mitchell wrote himself thousands in checks, took out cash at ATMs and traveled on county funds. He faces four felony counts of theft and a county of public misconduct. Mitchell and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
93-year-old WWII veteran arrested during visit to VA hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, 93, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest during his visit to VA hospital on Friday, Nov. 30. (Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco_
Pearl Harbor survivor struggles in her senior years
Winifred Kamen, 77, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as an infant, works a 100 percent commission telemarketing job to make ends meet. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Catahoula dogs rescued from home in Moapa Valley
Catahoula dogs were brought to The Animal Foundation after being rescued from home in Moapa Valley.
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses in California wildfire
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses she suffered in California's Woolsey Fire in Malibu in November. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benefit dinner for Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager
Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe in Las Vegas talks about having a benefit for Kerry Clasby, known as the Intuitive Forager, who suffered losses on her farm in California’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former President George H.W. Bush dies at 94
Former President George H.W. Bush has died at the age of 94. He died Friday night in Houston, about eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara.
Las Vegans Celebrate Big Snowfall
Las Vegans celebrate big snowfall at Lee Canyon.
Exploring old mines for denim jeans and other vintage items
Caden Gould of Genoa, Nev. talks about his experiences looking for vintage denim jeans and other items in old mines and other places areas across Nevada and the west.
Officers share photo of dead gunman after Las Vegas shooting
A little over an hour after SWAT officers entered Stephen Paddock's suite at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas police officers far from the scene were already sharing cell phone photos of the dead Oct. 1 gunman.
Frontier jet safely returns to Las Vegas after losing engine piece
Frontier jet safely returns to Las Vegas after losing engine piece. (@FlightAlerts_)
Park Service plans ahead for lower lake levels
National Park Service releases new plans to maintain access to the water as Lake Mead continues to shrink.
Women claim abuse at Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility
Current and ex-inmates, including Merry West, are suing Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Facility, claiming abuse and inadequate medical care. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Butte County Sheriff's Office Body Cam Footage
Bodycam video from Butte County (Calif.) Sheriff's Office Deputy Aaron Parmley, who was in Paradise November 8 helping with evacuations. (Butte County Sheriff's Office)
NDOT construction blasting along State Route 106
NDOT construction blasting along State Route 160, near Mt. Potosi Road, in Clark County as part of a $59 million, 6-mile-long highway widening project that began this summer. (Nevada Department of Transportation)
Car crashes into Papa Murphy's Pizza shop
A driver crashed a car into a western Las Vegas Valley pizza shop on Tuesday morning, police said. (Joe Stanhibel/Special to Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Low-lake-level pumping station nears completion
Barnard Construction and the Southern Nevada Water Authority give one last tour before the new low-lake-level pumping station is activated.
Trailer: Valley of Fires
Sultan’s Playroom from Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada
Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada’s Scott Rosenzweig talks about granting Sultan Bouras Souissi’s wish, and what went into building it. (John Hornberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jim Marsh brings historic replica of rural church to Amargosa Valley
Jim Marsh talks during the opening of the Chapel at Longstreet, a replica of an 1874 Catholic church built in the mining town of Belmont, Nev., at Marsh's Longstreet Casino in Amargosa Valley, Nev. Chase Stevens/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas Livestock recycling Strip food waste
Las Vegas Livestock collects and recycles food from many Las Vegas Strip companies. (Nicole Raz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roy Choi on cooking for Park MGM employees
As he prepares to open his new restaurant Best Friend later this month at Park MGM, celebrity chef Roy Choi took the time to cook for the resort’s employees Tuesday. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Great Santa Run
People participated in the 14th annual Las Vegas Great Santa Run which raises cubs for Opportunity Village.
World Holidays Exhibit At The Natural History Museum
Migratory Bird Day teaches adults and kids to celebrate birds
Different organizations offered activities for kids and adults to learn about birds and celebrate their migration journey at Sunset Park. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Jackson: The Red Rock Canyon Burro" is a children's book about Red Rock Canyon
"Jackson: The Red Rock Canyon Burro" is a children's book about Red Rock Canyon (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Interfaith Amigos speak in Las Vegas
Celebrity photographer dedicates dance book to Las Vegas shooting victims
Behind the scenes with local celebrity photographer Jerry Metellus as he talks about his Dance For Vegas coffee book dedicated to the 58 victims of the October 1 shooting. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Dreamsickle Kids Foundation founder Gina Glass talks awareness
Gina Glass, 35, founded Dreamsickle Kids Foundation to raise awareness for sickle cell disease in Nevada. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like