Boynton Health Service received 6,000 flu vaccines from the state last week, said Dave Golden, public health and marketing director at the service.
Although the vaccines have arrived, only people in high-risk categories will receive them, said Boynton director Ed Ehlinger.
In early October, Boynton did not receive vaccines it had ordered from Chiron Corp., a major flu vaccine manufacturer.
After receiving the vaccines, Boynton sent approximately 1,100 letters to patients who qualified for the vaccine encouraging them to make appointments, Golden said.
Boynton needed approximately 2,000 to 3,000 of those doses to treat people in high-risk categories. The rest will be redistributed to other areas of the state that need it, he said.
“We’re trying to coordinate a distribution system from what’s out there to make sure patients with the highest risks are getting the flu vaccine,” he said. “We’re really discouraging healthy folks from getting the vaccine unless they fit into those categories.”
Ehlinger said the Minnesota Department of Health asked Boynton to share the vaccines with parts of the state that need it.
“We’re trying to be good neighbors,” he said.
The vaccines will not be available for the University’s general population, he said.
The state Health Department confirmed the first flu case of the season Oct. 18. It has also confirmed another case since that date, said Minnesota Department of Health communications specialist Doug Schultz.
The flu season usually runs from November until May. The two reported cases occurred earlier than normal, he said.
“More often than not, we usually don’t see a first case until December,” Schultz said. “It’s hard to predict whether we’ll see a wave of additional cases.”
He said it is too early to determine whether the flu vaccine shortage will cause an increase in flu cases this year.
Golden also said it is too early to see any impact caused by the shortage. Boynton has not seen an increase in cases, he said.
Golden said he thought Boynton had confirmed one case of the flu.
“We’re in prevention-mode here,” he said.
Boynton will send an e-mail to students, staff and faculty members in the next few days to address the issue.
According to the e-mail, walk-in flu clinics will be available Friday and Nov. 11 at Boynton. The e-mail also lists high-risk categories and prevention tips.
The e-mail said a limited supply of nasal spray vaccines will be available for healthy people who have a child younger than the age of 6 months, infant-child-care workers and people who work with high-risk individuals.
Boynton will also be distributing free flu kits in November, which include items such as chicken noodle soup, cough syrup and hand sanitizer, Golden said.