Limited number of flu shots available this week

Published 4:26 am Monday, October 25, 2004

By Staff
Staff Report
The Alabama Department of Public Health will distribute the limited supply of influenza vaccine it has received to county health departments on Monday, Oct. 25, based upon need. The 60,620 doses of influenza vaccine will only be provided to high-risk individuals.
Paula Dubose, office manager with the Escambia County Health Department, reports that it will be administering 50 doses per day, Tuesday through Friday of next week.
To avoid inconvenience, persons in high-risk groups will be given immunizations according to the first letter of their last names. The schedule is as follows:
Dubose said that those who fall into the high risk categories listed below can come in on the day indicated above. Numbers will be given out, and 50 doeses will be administered on a first-come, first-served basis each day.
Healthy adults have been asked to forego receiving their influenza shots so that people 65 and older and other people at high-risk of flu complications can be immunized. Vaccine will be provided for babies and toddlers ages 6-23 months; people 65 or older; persons with a chronic condition such as heart or lung disease; pregnant women; nursing home residents; children on aspirin therapy; health care workers who care for high-risk groups; and anyone who cares for or lives with babies younger than 6 months.
According to Dubose, the 200 doses to be administered next week will not come close to meeting the need for flu vaccines in Escambia County, and health department officials don't know when or if more vaccines will be made available.
A health department telephone survey found that health care providers in Alabama have received less than one-fourth, about 290,000, of the 1.2 million doses ordered for this flu season. The department also has received 39,000 doses of influenza vaccine for the Vaccines For Children program that will be distributed to health care providers. This represents 34 percent of the health department order for children in the program.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has notified the department manufacturers will provide influenza vaccine directly to nursing homes.
The departments of health in Jefferson and Mobile counties are establishing different procedures to address the high demands they may have for influenza vaccine.
Dr. Donald Williamson, state health officer, said, "Despite our vaccine shortfall, we want as many high-risk individuals as possible to be able to receive influenza vaccine. Our objective is to distribute vaccine equitably and provide immunizations in as orderly a fashion as possible. No appointments are being made, so there is no need to call to schedule an appointment. Our objective is to distribute vaccine equitably and provide immunizations in as orderly a fashion as possible. No appointments are being made, so there is no need to call to schedule them."
A first ever massive telephone survey of medical providers statewide was made this week to determine vaccine availability and need. Calls were made to physicians, pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities to determine the number of vaccine doses needed for high-risk patients.
"We thank the Alabama health care community for their cooperation in responding to this survey and support by only vaccinating high-risk individuals," Dr. Williamson said. "We will strive to distribute the vaccine we have as equitably as possible."
Although a vaccination is the best protection against the flu, other precautions can be taken to prevent the transmission of influenza, including the following:
To stay healthy:
If sick, don't spread germs to others.
High-risk patients depend on flu shots because the injections are made of killed influenza virus. Other options include the inhaled flu vaccine which helps protect healthy children and adults, aged 5 to 49, from the flu. Oral treatments protect against infection if taken during an outbreak.