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Mills Flu Shot Supply Cut in Half Due to National Shortage of Vaccines This Year

Despite a severe flu vaccine shortage, the Mills flu clinic was
made a priority by the Tang Center. However, Mills only
administered about half the number of flu shots as they have in
years past.

On Oct. 4, Chiron Corp., an Emeryville-based biotechnology firm,
announced that their plant in Liverpool, England that makes about
half of the U.S. supply of flu vaccines was shut down due to health
concerns over contamination of the vaccines.

Alameda County along with four other Bay Area counties has
declared a local state of emergency over the flu vaccination

According to the Tri-Valley Herald, about 400,000 people in
Alameda County fall into the categories of “high-risk
people” who should get the vaccine, but the county only has
about 62,000 doses in public and private stocks.

On Oct. 6 news first came out about the shortage. Dr. Peter
Dietrich, medical director at the Tang Center, said, “We have
been aware of a shortage for weeks, but unclear how it will
directly affect us at this time. At this point it looks like,
unfortunately, some people who might really need the vaccine
won’t get it.”

The shortage did end up affecting the Tang Center at Berkeley,
which usually orders about 5,000 vaccine doses. “This year
they got about a quarter of the number of flu shots they usually
receive,” said Mills Health Director Cynthia Turner,
“Three clinics were cancelled.” This year there were
two clinics at Berkeley and one at Mills, rather than the five they
usually have at Berkeley. “Berkeley made it a priority to get
it to Mills,” said Turner.

The Mills flu clinic, held Oct. 13, gave flu shots to about 60
students and staff. Usually the clinic is prepared to give about
125-130 shots a year at Mills. While no one had to show proof of
medical necessity, “there were very strict [Center for
Disease Control] guidelines. The same were applied to
everyone,” said Turner.

“Did you read the parameters, do you specifically
qualify?” asked workers at the clinic, hoping to get the
limited supply of flu shots to the people most in need.

Adrienne Ratner, a graduate student in education, used to get
flu shots every year since she was working with many students.
While this no longer qualifies her for getting a flu shot, she is
still in a priority group to get the vaccination since she lives
with an infant under six months old.

Knowing she would need one, Ratner chose to get hers at Mills.
“I live with a physician who told me to get the shot here, so
I wouldn’t have to go to the county and deplete their

ASMC Vice-President Annie Flores, who said she has really bad
allergies, was able to get a flu shot at the clinic. “I live
in a communal environment at Orchard Meadow and people tend to have
bad habits.” Flores was concerned she would be unable to get
a flu shot this year, since she saw a lot of lines of people on
television trying to get one. She finds that the flu shot works
well, helping her stay healthy.

The shortage of flu shots leaves many students, faculty and
staff members at Mills vulnerable to getting the flu this year.
While influenza itself can occur anytime of the year, Dietrich sees
an increase in December.

Over the years Turner has noticed, “When stress is high,
students stop doing things that they normally do to stay healthy,
wearing down their resistance. When you live in a communal
situation you really need to take precautions.” She usually
sees the most flu cases after the middle of the semester.

In order to prevent the flu, both Dietrich and Turner suggest
frequent hand washing, plenty of rest, healthy foods, and plenty of
water to try and keep your immune system strong.

If you do happen to get the flu, Turner suggests to “be
considerate of others, slow down, rest, take care of

Dietrich suggests wearing a mask if you are really sick. He adds
that the Tang Center can still help you “Some medications can
decrease complications and lessen the lifespan of the

For more information on the flu, how to find a flu shot, and
prevention tips,visit the Tang Center Web site at