Shoot! Flu vaccine more likely a needle with nasal spray in short supply

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There's a prickly situation confronting Minnesotans getting their flu vaccinations.

The nasal spray that many patients prefer to needles is in short supply at clinics these days, meaning more flu shots are being administered the old fashioned way.

An official with Minnesota's Department of Health tells the Star Tribune the state has received only 42 percent of the FluMist it ordered from the company that makes it.

Some hospitals and clinics have run out of the spray entirely, the newspaper says, leading some parents to either search for clinics that still have it or wait to vaccinate their children next month, when supplies are expected to be replenished.

While the mist is approved by the Health Department for ages 2-49 (with the exception of pregnant mothers) it is especially popular with children looking to avoid a shot in the arm.

The shortage of FluMist is happening across the country. A spokeswoman for the company that makes it, Astra Zeneca, told the Washington Post there were "challenges with production" that affected the timing of deliveries.

Astra Zeneca said in September it planned to ship 15 million doses of FluMist this season. The Post reported last week that 6 million had been delivered. But the company says it will have more available for late-season delivery.

Flu season runs from October through May, but generally peaks in January and February.

The Health Department has a Vaccines for Children program that offers free vaccinations to children from low-income families.

In addition, the department is working with the Office of Emergency Preparedness on full-scale mass vaccination exercises in certain areas. KDUZ reports that in south central Minnesota Meeker-McLeod-Sibley Community Health Services will offer free immunizations to all children aged 5-18 from Nov. 30 through Dec. 11.

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