The day after the federal government announced that the country is facing a serious shortage of the flu vaccine, about 60 people showed up at a scheduled clinic sponsored by the Anne Arundel County Department of Health.
The residents were told of the shortage and turned away bycounty health officials, who said they were devising a plan for distributing the limited supply of vaccine the county already has on hand.
This year the health department has 8,000 doses of the vaccine, with hopes of getting 6,000 more, said Elin Jones, a department spokeswoman. But even if the county does get the additional vaccines, the total amount is still far less than what it had last year when it vaccinated more than 25,000 residents.
The shortage is the result of a decision by British authorities earlier this month to block a commercial shipment of about 50 million doses for fear they may have been contaminated.
With a limited supply, the county will develop what Jones called a "priority list" of those most at risk: people 65 and older, babies between the ages of 6 months and 23 months and people with underlying medical problems that make them particularly vulnerable.
"We have vaccine, but we still need to decide how to distribute it," Jones said. "We're still putting together our plan on how to have clinics."
That plan could be in place as soon as this week, Jones said. In the meantime, health officials are encouraging people to make sure they wash their hands and stay home if they do have symptoms.
"If you're sick, stay home," Jones said. "Don't go out and spread it."
Open for Business
Question: What are Ireland, Denmark, Finland and Russia?
Answer: The countries Janet S. Owens has visited since becoming county executive. Soon China and Singapore may be added to the list. The executive plans to visit those places as part of a five-day trip with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), a delegation of 20 Maryland-based companies and representatives from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.
"Singapore and China are two of the most trade-focused countries in the world," Ehrlich said in a statement. "This is a great opportunity to let . . . these countries know that Maryland is open for business."
That was essentially the same message Owens (D) was trying to send during her previous visits to Europe. And it's what District Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) is trying to accomplish as well when he, five city council members and eight city employees embark on an 11-day excursion to China and Thailand today.
Last month, two delegations of government and business leaders from China visited with Owens and other county officials. And on Tuesday, Robert Walker, the county's chief administrative officer, met with officials from China about possible business opportunities.