7/17/02 - Shot Shortage

Back to school time is almost here, and many parents are making sure their kid's shots are up to date, but with the recent vaccine shortages Heartland health departments are having a hard time keeping up with the demand.

Now, there's good news to report. For two years now, there has been a shortage of the MMR vaccine, that protects children against measles, mumps, and rubella, and the DTP vaccine, that fights off diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis). Wednesday the Centers for Disease Control announced that the two vaccines will be up to full supply again soon and that news has health departments and parents taking a sigh of relief.

Robin Koetting says she makes sure her one-year-old daughter, Zoe, is up to date on her shots because she wants to keep her healthy and safe. Wednesday, Zoe got her first MMR shot. Three months from now she'll get her DTP vaccination. Zoe will need these two shots again, when she's ready to start kindergarten. Jane Wernsman with the Cape County Health Department says, "Those two immunizations, which are required for kindergarten entrance, are really important to prevent those childhood diseases."

Even though the Cape County Health Department never had to turn a child away, knowing there was a shortage did cause a little bit of stress. "You have to watch your inventory more closely and try to do your scheduling a little bit more creatively to make sure everybody gets the proper immunizations," Wernsman says.

Now that there's enough of the vaccines to go around, health departments are ready. Wernsman says, "What we have been told is even though there's not a nationwide shortage, it may take a little time to make sure everyone's supply is back to what they are used to." Even though no parents like to hear the temporary pain that shots cause, they are happy to hear their child won't have to wait for the shots she needs. "Now she gets to have her shots and be healthy," Zoe's mom says.

In addition to the DTP and MMR vaccines, the health department is also expecting a shipment of the adult tetanus vaccine, and hopes to get everyone who's been on the waiting list taken care of in the near future.