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Temporary shortage of flu vaccine cited

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The Utah County Health Department is temporarily out of flu vaccine. So are a bunch of other doctors' offices and public health clinics.

But it's a temporary situation, health officials stress, not a shortage like they've had in recent years.

"Everybody's in the same situation," said Rebecca Ward of the Utah Immunization Program. "It's pretty much nationwide, and we knew it coming in."

The four manufacturers early on announced they would ship orders using "proportional distribution" to see that everyone got some early, with more to follow. Who has vaccine now and how much depends on from whom they ordered and when, Ward said.

"We've been told there'll be adequate supplies, but they're coming in at different times in proportional amounts," she said.

That's left the various flu shot providers to determine how best to distribute what they have. Some are offering early shots only to those at high risk for complications. But that's optional. "There are no national recommendations to target high-risk groups this year," Ward said.

Instead, health officials encourage people to use the state's online flu clinic locator, www.immunize-utah.org, to see where the vaccine is supposed to be available. People should still call and check before they head out the door.

And people who don't get vaccinated until later in November or even in December will still benefit, according to health officials, because flu typically doesn't peak in Utah until about February.