seal  Purdue News

December 10, 2003

Purdue out of vaccine after meeting 20 percent increase in demand

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University officials today (Wednesday, 12/ 10) announced the university's supply of flu vaccine has been exhausted after immunizing more than 6,500 faculty, staff and students – 1,500 more than last year.

James Westman, director of the Student Health Center, advises any students, faculty and staff who have not been vaccinated to contact personal physicians on the chance that they may have access to the rapidly dwindling supply.

"However, I am not optimistic about finding much availability," Westman said. "We have called our wholesaler, distributors and many local health-care providers and have been told they are out as well."

Whether more of the vaccine will become available is unknown.

"The Centers for Disease Control is attempting to obtain residual flu vaccine, both here and abroad, and will then work with state and local health departments to redistribute it to the areas in the most need," Westman said. "Where any additional supplies will be available will depend on these organizations."

There is not enough time to produce more vaccine before the end of the flu season, Westman said.

Purdue places its order for vaccine in February, and deciding how much to order is guesswork, Westman said.

Purdue initially ordered 5,000 doses based on past demand, he said, but there was an increase in interest this year, especially among students, partially due to an information campaign on campus and increased awareness by parents. At that point, Purdue obtained 1,000 more doses.

"After Thanksgiving, we saw a spike in student requests, and some told us that over the holiday their parents had asked them get the vaccination," Westman said.

The effectiveness of the vaccine is less than hoped, but still helpful, he said.

"The vaccine was developed for a closely related strain of the Type A influenza we are seeing this year, and the CDC believes this vaccine will afford some protection against it and reduce symptoms," he said.

Antiviral medicine also is available by prescription if taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.

"Flu symptoms include sudden onset of a high fever, dry cough, muscle aches and fatigue," he said. "Contact the Student Health Center or your health-care provider as soon as possible after onset to determine whether one of these antiviral medications is appropriate."

Finally, to minimize chances of contracting the flu, Westman urges people to wash their hands frequently, avoid exposure and avoid exposing others, and pamper your immune system with plenty of rest and exercise as well as a healthy diet.

Writer: Jeanne V. Norberg, (765) 494-2084; (765) 449-4986 (home),

Source: James Westman, (765) 494-1720,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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