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MUSC: Thousands of flu vaccinations destroyed, shortage expected - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

MUSC: Thousands of flu vaccinations destroyed, shortage expected

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Thousands of doses of seasonal flu vaccine headed to the Medical University of South Carolina were destroyed Wednesday after they were accidentally frozen. Freezing a vaccination renders it ineffective, say hospital officials.

MUSC's portion of that shipment was to have been 13,000 doses; however the hospital only received 2,600 doses.  Many other medical centers across the nation are likewise affected. 

With the lost shipment, officials at MUSC say the hospital's supply of flu vaccine has been greatly diminished. Further, officials say the outlook to find another supply is not good. As a result of the loss, the hospital has had to re-examine their plans to vaccinate all hospital employees.

In a second release issued Wednesday afternoon, the hospital outlined several guidelines for patients looking to receive the flu vaccine from the hospital.

Ambulatory Patients:

For patients scheduled in MUSC clinics, the following populations are eligible for influenza vaccination.  If a patient does NOT meet the below criteria, they are encouraged them to receive their vaccine elsewhere:

  • Women who will be pregnant during influenza season.
  • Anyone with a weakened immune system due to: -HIV/AIDS or other diseases affecting the immune system -long-term treatment with drugs such as steroids -cancer treatment with x-rays or drugs
  • Anyone with certain muscle or nerve disorders (such as seizure disorders or cerebral palsy) that can lead to breathing or swallowing problems.
  • Anyone 6 months through 18 years of age on long-term aspirin treatment (they could develop Reye Syndrome if they got influenza).
  • Anyone with long-term health problems with: -heart disease - kidney disease - liver disease -lung disease - metabolic disease, such as diabetes -asthma - anemia, and other blood disorders

Inpatients:

All inpatients will be screened for seasonal flu vaccine. The inpatient order form is being modified to take into account the same above high-priority patients.  A portion of MUSC's flu vaccine supply has been reserved for them.

Staff:

Out of the current supply, MUSC has allocated as much vaccine as possible for staff, while still meeting patient needs.  Hospital Leadership is determining the priority groups and the timeline for vaccination based on patient populations served and providers critical to the operations of the hospital.

The hospital has also canceled all employee tent events for October. The events will be rescheduled if another adequate supply can be located.

The H1N1 vaccine was not affected, however.

Vice President of Clinical Operations Stuart Smith issued the following release Wednesday morning: 

Unfortunately a large lot of seasonal flu vaccine from Novartis was destroyed due to freezing (rendered ineffective) during shipment to nationwide distribution centers. The shipment included 13,000 doses designated for MUSC, and this greatly reduces our supply. Our Pharmacy Department is working to identify additional sources at this time, but the outlook is not very good.  

Specific instructions have been widely disseminated by e-mail concerning criteria for vaccination of high priority ambulatory patients and inpatients.

Unfortunately, our original plans to provide vaccine to all employees have changed. Work is underway to identify high priority employees in order to make the best use of our vaccine doses. Additional details will be issued soon and steps are being taken to begin vaccination of priority groups. Any employees wishing to obtain the seasonal flu vaccine right away are encouraged to visit their primary care physician or local pharmacy.

This does not affect the H1N1 vaccine. We expect to receive the H1N1 vaccine in the days ahead and specific instructions will be issued concerning employee vaccinations. 

Thank you very much.

W. Stuart Smith
Vice President for Clinical Operations
and Executive Director, MUSC Medical Center

A press conference is being planned for Thursday.

©2009 WCSC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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