- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Local supermarkets, churches and community health clinics were hard-pressed to provide flu shots this week after distributors canceled or postponed vaccination programs.

Giant Food LLC, the Landover supermarket chain with 191 stores in the Mid-Atlantic region, canceled its in-store flu shot clinics Sunday, said spokesman Barry Scher.

The grocery chain stopped its clinics after its supplier, Maxim Healthcare Services Inc., announced last week it would cancel all flu clinics at retail locations starting Monday.

Maxim Healthcare, a Columbia-based company that runs flu-shot clinics, blamed higher demand and a lag in its vaccination shipments. The cancellation is expected to affect 10 percent of the company’s forecast 36,000 clinics nationwide this year.

The company, which would not name its vaccine suppliers, asked corporate clients to postpone their clinics by three to four weeks, said spokesman Steve Wright.

Safeway Inc.’s 100 Washington-area stores reported steady flu-shot supply, said spokesman Craig Muckle, who was not aware of any distribution problems.

Passport Health Inc., a Baltimore network of immunization specialists, also pushed back flu-shot clinics by two weeks after its vaccination supply slowed, said Executive Director Carol DeRosa.

“It’s frustrating. No one understands why this is,” she said. Passport, which planned to give out 25,000 to 30,000 vaccine doses this year, has received about half of its original order.

Inova Health System, a nonprofit heath care provider based in Falls Church, canceled about 500 public and corporate clinics in the Washington area after its vaccine shipments from Chiron Corp. were disrupted, said spokeswoman Rachel Lynch.

Chiron spokeswoman Alison Marquiss said the Emeryville, Calif.-based vaccine manufacturer announced last month it would send smaller, later vaccine shipments because it started manufacturing later than anticipated.

“Because we spent so much time last year improving our Liverpool facility, we were late getting to the market,” Ms. Marquiss said.

Inova, which is providing shots only to high-risk patients at its five hospitals, planned to give out 80,000 to 90,000 vaccine doses this flu season, which generally runs from November through March. The system has administered about 30,000 shots, Mrs. Lynch said.

In addition, Fairfax County’s Health Department recently ran out of vaccine and stopped taking appointments, said spokeswoman Kimberly Cordero.

“It seems to me that all the area counties are in the same boat here,” Ms. Cordero said.

Other health agencies said they are preparing to fill in for sites that have stopped vaccinations.

“Given the volume of phone calls we’ve had … I think we’re one of the only games in town,” said Mary Anderson, spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Health and Human Services Department.

The county ordered roughly 5,000 flu shots for its three vaccination programs and received about 3,000 so far, Ms. Anderson said.

The health agency held one clinic in Silver Spring last week, vaccinating 650 patients. Two more clinics in Silver Spring and Germantown are scheduled for next week.

Loudoun County’s health department received all of its requested 2,000 doses this week and plans to continue holding its clinics on Tuesday afternoons, said Director Dr. David Goodfriend.

Prince George’s County’s health department also received its full vaccination shipment of 2,900 doses, said spokeswoman Patricia Sullivan.

The county has 200 doses left for its last public clinic, she said.

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