Despite Flu Shot Shortage, More Patients Immunized

The people who need flu shots the most are getting the vaccine at higher rates than before.  High-risk patients, staff, faculty and students that have direct patient contact at UNM Hospitals won't be as predisposed to catching the flu this season.  

"It is extremely important that these people be immunized for two reasons", said Jim Krieger, PhD, Director of Clinical Pharmacy Services at UNM Hospitals. "They are either extremely vulnerable to catching influenza or are in a position to pass it to susceptible hospital patients."

At UNM Hospitals, the UNM College of Pharmacy students are giving out 200-300 shots per day. 

To make sure the right people are getting the flu vaccine, UNM College of Pharmacy students help staff the Emergency Department flu clinic and man a roving flu team that immunizes UNM patients and staff on the floors.  These flu shots have been given at no charge. 

While not many people die from the flu itself, people in weakened states who catch the illness can actually get sick from complications or can develop other diseases like pneumonia. 

While, one out of four people get the flu each year, the risk goes up exponentially for those over 65 years or under 24 months of age. 

According to Krieger, UNM Hospitals typically vaccinates about 10,000 persons each flu season, but this year the hospital purchased more shots and started getting people immunized earlier.

Since the UNM Hospital Immunization Kick-Off on October 1, the UNM Health Sciences Center has dispensed approximately 20,000 doses and has transferred an additional 9,000 doses to other hospitals and nursing homes in need through the NM Department of Health.      

Contact: Angela Heisel, 272-3322

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