Public Bulletin on Influenza Vaccine

The national flu vaccine shortage announced this week has caused a ripple of reaction on the Vineyard, and local visiting nurse services and health agencies report a flood of telephone calls from concerned residents, many of them elderly.

Public health officials said the shortage will affect the Vineyard, but it is too early to say how much.

Joyce Capobianco, director of the Visiting Nurse Service for Martha's Vineyard Community Services, said this week that regular announcements will go out as information becomes available. For now, Ms. Capobianco said all Vineyard clinics that administer the flu vaccine will be affected by the restrictions outlined by the state department of public health. Vaccines will be made available to people who are 65 or older, and to people with chronic illnesses or compromised immune systems.

Nurses at Community Services administer flu clinics in five of the six Vineyard towns through the town boards of health. The town of Oak Bluffs also offers a flu clinic using a separate visiting nurse agency.

Ms. Capobianco advised Vineyard residents to take common sense precautions with the approach of the coming influenza season, including frequent hand washing and avoiding exposure to other people who are sick.

"People should be prepared for a limitation on the vaccine," she said.