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Shortage of tetanus shots likely to last through end of year

February 21, 2001|By ANTHONY LONGORIA, Staff Writer

While the nation is experiencing a shortage of tetanus vaccinations, supplies of the drug varied at local health agencies, with most officials saying they had adequate supplies.

Ray Ghougassian, a pharmacist at Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District in Brawley, said while he anticipates a shortage of tetanus shots, a supply of tetanus/diphtheria combination shots could be used should tetanus supplies be depleted.

As of Tuesday, Ghougassian said he had two vials of tetanus shots left.

Yvonne Smith, Imperial County public health director, said her agency had "ample supplies" of the shots after it conducted an inventory check Tuesday.

The situation was different at the El Centro Regional Medical Center, where pharmacist Danny Tirado said the hospital was experiencing a shortage of tetanus and tetanus/diphtheria supplies.

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"Every day there's something new," Tirado said of the drug shortages hospitals face.

Tirado said the tetanus vaccination shortage is one of many shortages hospitals frequently face.

While the hospital has been able to keep an adequate tetanus shot supply, Tirado said he's dealt with price gouging when trying to find alternate sources for the drug.

Supplies of tetanus shots have been scarce since drug manufacturers ceased making the drug because of "production difficulties," The Associated Press reported yesterday.

Profitability, Food and Drug Administration citations and manufacturing problems all contribute to drug supply shortages, the AP reported.

One manufacturer remains the sole supplier and is making doses around the clock, but each batch takes 11 months to make. New supplies aren't expected until the end of the year.

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