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Larger supply of flu vaccine this season
Scripps Howard News Service


October 05, 2005

It appears the nation will have a bigger supply of flu vaccine this fall, but health officials still want high-risk people to be at the head of the line for the vaccine until late October.

Who should get a flu shot
and who shouldn't?

Scripps Howard News Service

People at high risk for complications from the flu and should get a flu shot:

- People 65 years and older.

- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities that house those with long-term illness.

- Adults and children 6 months and older with chronic heart or lung conditions, including asthma.

- Adults and children 6 months and older who need regular medical care or were hospitalized for a metabolic disease, like diabetes, kidney disease or a weakened immune system.

- Children 6 months to 18 years of age on long-term aspirin therapy.

- Women who are pregnant during the flu season.

- All children 6 months to 23 months of age.

- People with any other condition that makes it difficult to breathe or swallow.

- People 50 to 64 years of age.

- People regularly in contact with those who are at high risk - health-care workers, child-care workers and close family members.

Who should NOT get a flu shot.

- Anyone with a severe allergy to chicken eggs.

- People who have had a severe reaction to a flu shot in the past.

- People who developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome within six weeks of getting a flu shot.

- Children less than 6 months of age.

Source: CDC

Contact Lee Bowman at BowmanL(at) Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,

Flu facts
Scripps Howard News Service

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness and even death. Older people, young children and people with medical conditions that weaken their immune systems are at the highest risk for flu complications.

Every year in the United States, on average:

- 5 percent to 20 percent of the population gets the flu

- More than 200,000 are hospitalized from flu complications

- About 38,000 people die from the flu and complications

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 97 million doses of flu vaccine should be available for this season, so long as no production glitches occur.

That's nearly equal to the 100 million shots the government had expected to have on hand for the 2004-05 season, before Chiron Corp. was forced to shut down its plant in England last year due to contamination concerns and cut stocks by nearly half.

With those problems resolved, Chiron officials expect to ship up to 26 million doses to the United States this winter. Another supplier, GlaxoSmithKline, was also recently approved, giving the country four suppliers and a greater chance that stocks won't be disrupted.

Even so, there's some uncertainty about how the season will go.

"Just as we can never predict what the upcoming flu season will look like, we're never 100 percent certain how many doses we will have or the demand for the vaccine," said the CDC director, Dr. Julie Gerberding.

Last year, the flu season was relatively mild and late in arriving. Health officials eventually managed to distribute about 61 million doses, with several million that were never used.

In addition to the very young, the old and those with chronic medical conditions that put them at greater risk of getting the flu, public health officials are pressing to ensure that the vaccine is available to evacuees from Hurricane Katrina who are still living in group shelters.

Officials are also making a big push to vaccinate nursing-home residents and health-care workers.

Dr. Mark McClellan, head of the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said a new rule requires nursing homes that receive federal funds to offer vaccines against the flu and bacterial pneumonia to all residents, unless they have a medical condition that precludes getting the vaccine.

"We want to see at least 90 percent of nursing-home residents get the shots this year," McClellan said. It's estimated that only about two-thirds of the nation's 2 million nursing-home residents get flu shots each season now, and only about 40 percent get the pneumococcal vaccine.

After Oct. 24, when the "priority patients" will have had about a month to get their shots, the CDC says healthy adults and children can join the clinic lines. Officials say that if they wait much later in the year to offer the shots to everyone, demand is likely to lessen and vaccine doses might go to waste.

On the Net:


What's the difference between flu and colds?
Scripps Howard News Service


- Caused by one of several airborne viruses spread by coughing and sneezing. Typically a winter illness.

- Hits fast and hard. About 75 percent of victims can pinpoint hour of onset. General weakness, headache, chills, widespread muscle ache, dry, hacking cough, nausea, stomach cramps and diarrhea.

- Fever of at least 100 Fahrenheit common. Typically, congestion worsens after fever breaks but is less severe than in colds.

- About half of adult flu victims have flushed face and hot, moist skin.

- Lasts two weeks, spread of virus most likely in first week.


- More than 200 viruses cause colds.

- Colds happen year-round, although less common in summer. Spread more readily hand-to-hand than sneezes.

- Local symptoms can start in nose, throat, eyes or chest, and onset is more gradual than with flu. Stuffy or runny nose is common. Coughing is rare, usually associated with congestion. Symptoms generally milder than with flu.

- Fever is rare except in children.

- Lasts two-seven days; symptoms that last longer could be caused by bacterial infection.

(Source: The American Lung Association, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)


Contact Lee Bowman at BowmanL(at)
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,


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