Still not enough for entire population, shots will be restricted to high risk only
November 10, 2004
State and local health officials and the CDC have worked together to assure that all available vaccine is allocated as fairly as possible across the nation. Jointly, they have developed a formula to determine the fairest allocation for each state that takes into account the number of high risk individuals in each state and the number of doses that have already been shipped to each state.
Within Alaska, state public health officials are regularly in contact with public health and private health care providers statewide to determine where additional vaccine may be needed.
" Some providers have a few doses of vaccine left; some are completely out. We'll be distributing these additional doses as quickly as possible to those areas of the state most in need," said Laurel Wood, Division of Public Health Immunization Program Manager.
Although this additional vaccine will help to meet the needs of high-risk populations in Alaska, it will still not be enough to allow vaccination of non high-risk people. Therefore, DHSS continues to ask providers to restrict flu vaccine to persons 65 years of age and older, persons of any age with chronic health conditions such as diabetes and asthma or with weakened immune systems, residents of nursing homes and long term care facilities, children 6 months through 23 months of age, women who will be pregnant during the influenza season, health care workers involved in direct patient care, and out-of-home caregivers of infants younger than 6 months of age.
" In general, Alaskans have been very supportive of this year's flu vaccine restrictions," Wood noted. "Many persons who are not high risk have been willing to forego a flu shot so that those most in need are able to receive one."
But it is important that high-risk persons continue to seek a vaccination. "Some persons who should be vaccinated have not requested the shot because they are confused by the categories or they think that someone else is at greater risk," Wood continued. "All persons on the high risk listing should be vaccinated, if vaccine is available."
Epidemiologists with the Division of Public Health are also encouraging people to take several simple precautions to help guard against getting or transmitting the flu, including: covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, and if you have flu-like symptoms, staying home to avoid infecting others.
People in the high-risk categories should contact their health care provider if they experience flu-like symptoms. Influenza is a viral respiratory illness marked by the sudden onset of fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches. The illness is spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, sending the highly contagious virus into the air.
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