How is the government shutdown impacting flu shots?

Posted at 4:50 PM, Oct 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-10 18:52:11-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -  The on-going federal government shutdown has not yet had an impact on the supply of flu vaccine in Central Virginia.

Flu Shot 01"The flu vaccine is made several months in advance and it's actually already been distributed to most areas, such as the local pharmacies and private providers and public health," Dr. Parham Jaberi, the Health District Director in Chestefield-Colonial Heights-Powhatan said.

Walnut Hill Pharmacy pharmacist Jarrett Rockwell said the last memo he received indicated there was a 30 percent decrease in the supply coming out this year, though the cause of the decrease was not known.

"Depending on how long the shutdown goes, we may have some problems down the line," Dr. Jaberi conceded.

While the vaccine may not be hugely impacted, the shutdown has put limitations on the people who monitor how the flu spreads across the country. The Centers for Disease Control has furloughed workers as part of the government shutdown.

"As long as we're not dealing with a new strain of a flu virus, or potential new pandemic, if we're looking at our usual seasonal flu, there's plenty of expertise and knowledge that we already have," Dr. Jaberi said.

While doctors rely on the CDC to provide information about the flu strain as it spreads across the country, Dr. Jaberi said Virginia collects its own data at the city, county and state level. That information is available through the state health department.