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Okinawan hospitals report shortage of flu vaccine

Date Posted: 2003-12-18

A worldwide shortage of flu vaccine is hitting Okinawa’s hospitals. Hospitals report that they are practically out of the vaccine and have no idea when they will get new supply. Officials at Okinawa Prefecture Health and Welfare Department and the Ministry of Health and Welfare in Tokyo said on Dec. 15 that none of the vaccine is currently available and they are unable to say when a new shipment could be made.

A spokesman for the Okinawa Prefecture Doctors’ Union said that people’s fear of SARS has prompted more people than ever to request vaccination. “The supply is not quite zero yet as some hospitals have a few doses left. When the news media started publishing articles about a shortage of influenza vaccine, many people who had never before asked for vaccination rushed to get a shot, and that caused the supply to run out very quickly,” the spokesman said.

Tadashi Nakasone, a director at Okinawa Prefecture Health Promotion Section, said that there’s no reason to panic. “We can only wait until we get new supply of the vaccine. In the meanwhile people should use common sense and avoid crowds wherever possible. They should pay attention to their personal hygiene, wash hands often and keep warm,” Nakasone said.

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