3/8/02 - Shot Shortage

Around flu season, you always hear how there's a shortage of the flu vaccine but now, add four other vaccines to that list. The problem is, they're shots babies need in their first year of life, putting a lot of kids on a waiting list. Health officials say there aren't enough companies manufacturing the vaccines, and the ones who are, may not be making enough. Even worse, full supplies aren't expected in until late summer or early fall.

Jane Wernsman with the Cape County Health Department says, "Basically it comes down to the children aren't receiving the full number of the doses as they normally would." A problem Wernsman says is out of her control.

Right now, there's a shortage of four major vaccines: pneumonia and tetanus, the combination shot of diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis plus the chicken pox vaccine. Which means right now, infants, like two-month-old Kaylynn Bridges of Cape Girardeau gets top priority, so she'll have some sort of immunity against the illnesses. Her mother Shawna Lawrence says, "It's very important, so I know she doesn't get sick or get any diseases or anything like that." Wernsman says, "They're concerned about the well being of their child, and want to make sure they're protected against the diseases."

Even though some of the vaccines are low at the Cape County Health Department, the problem's not necessarily over when a shipment comes in. There are many kids on waiting lists to get the vaccines, and they get taken care of first, right after the infants get what they need.

So now, all parents can do is put kids on waiting lists to get their immunizations. Some children can wait to get certain shots, but if the shortage continues, health officials may have to deal with outbreaks of certain illnesses. Wernsman says, "Without adequate immunizations we could begin to see the occurrence of childhood illnesses again, like measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis or whooping cough, things we haven't seen for years."

Health officials say right now, the situation's not bad enough for parents to panic, but that it's important that you keep your child's immunization appointments, so if they're out of the vaccine, your child can be put on a waiting list.