Pediatricians forced to deny flu shots to some

Some Augusta physicians are grumbling about a shortage of seasonal flu shots, particularly in a program that could prevent children on Medicaid from receiving a shot, the Richmond County Board of Health learned Tuesday night.

Board Chairman Terrence Cook, an Augusta allergist, said he is hearing from pediatricians who are upset that they have not received seasonal influenza vaccine via the Vaccines for Children program. The vaccine is intended for a certain population, including children on Medicaid, he said.

The vaccine can be given only to children in that program, so the physician cannot give that child a shot from another supply and make up for it later with vaccine from that program, Dr. Cook said.

"You cannot borrow against it," he said, because the state has the lot numbers and can audit a physician to check who was given those shots.

That puts pediatricians in the position of having to deny a Medicaid child a shot while giving one to a private-pay patient.

"That's creating difficulties, and they're really unhappy," Dr. Cook said. He has gotten only about 25 percent of the flu shots he ordered, with another 25 percent promised soon.

A lot of independent pharmacists in Georgia have not received their orders either, said board member Stewart Flanagin, the owner of Hill Drug Co. He has gotten one-third of his so far.

The East Central Health District did receive a "good supply" and is planning to begin its flu clinics Sept. 21, District Director Ketty Gonzalez said. The week after that, the Richmond County Health Department will try to do all 63 schools in one week.

The novel influenza A H1N1 vaccine's arrival is a "moving target," but it appears it will arrive by early November, Dr. Gonzalez said. The district has enlisted providers and pharmacists to help distribute the shot, which will be free, although private providers can charge an administration fee, she said.

In other business, the board elected Dr. Elijah Lightfoot Jr. as chairman to replace Dr. Cook, who is leaving in December after 17 years on the board, 12 as chairman. Dr. Lightfoot will take over in October. Cathy Green was elected vice chairwoman.

FLU SHOT CLINICS

Available the week of Sept. 21-25 at county health departments unless otherwise noted:

BURKE: Monday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

COLUMBIA-EVANS: Monday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

COLUMBIA-GROVETOWN: Monday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

COLUMBIA-APPLING: Monday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

EVANS LIBRARY: Wednesday, 1-4:30 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

EMANUEL-SWAINSBORO: Monday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Wednesday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:40 p.m.

EMANUEL-ADRIAN: Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

EMANUEL-TWIN CITY: Monday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Wednesday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

GLASCOCK: Monday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Wednesday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

JEFFERSON: Monday, 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

JENKINS: Monday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

LINCOLN: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; closed daily noon to 12:30 p.m.

MCDUFFIE: Monday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

RICHMOND-SOUTH AUGUSTA: Monday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

RICHMOND-LANEY-WALKER: Monday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

SCREVEN: Monday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

TALIAFERRO: Monday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WARREN: Monday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

WILKES: Monday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.