Capitol Doctor’s Office Running Out of Flu Vaccine

Posted December 12, 2003 at 1:59pm

The Office of the Attending Physician has administered approximately 8,500 influenza vaccines this season, paralleling increased demand for the shots nationwide.

And like the rest of the country, a spokesman said the office is “almost out of our flu product.”

Asked if the office had seen more demand this year than in the past, he responded: “A lot more. A lot more.

“There has been just almost like a run on it, just like you read in the papers.”

The shots are given at the seven first aid rooms run by Attending Physician John Eisold throughout the Capitol. They are available to anyone with Congressionally issued identification.

Demand for the vaccines among staffers and other Hill workers first spiked a few years ago, following the anthrax contamination, the spokesman said. At the time, individuals were advised to get immunized in order to avert the possibility that flu symptoms would be mistaken for indications of anthrax infection.

The number of people receiving the vaccines from the Attending Physician’s office increased slightly again last year, but was nowhere near the demand for the inoculations this season, the spokesman said.

“This year it has just jumped through the ceiling,” he said.

The increase comes despite a “Dear Colleague” letter Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) issued a few months ago warning fellow lawmakers and their staffs about Thimerosal, a commonly used vaccine preservative that contains mercury. He said he would rather get the flu than subject himself to the potent neurotoxin.

The office will take this year’s demand into account when it places next year’s order, expected in the next few weeks.