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DHS news release

Dec. 20, 2004


Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180


Technical contact: Grant Higginson, M.D. (503) 731-4000


Oregon public health officials expand flu vaccinations

Effective Tuesday, Oregonians age 50 and older, out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of people in designated high-priority groups can be vaccinated against influenza, public health officials in the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) announced today.


Oregon's vaccine prioritization plan previously excluded these individuals from obtaining a flu shot.


The expansion to Oregon's plan is in line with new recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advising that current vaccine restrictions should be eased. While the CDC has adopted those guidelines effective Jan. 3, 2005, Oregon has elected to make them effective Dec. 21, according to Grant Higginson, M.D., state public health officer in DHS.


"Our goal is still to see that as many high-priority people get vaccinated as possible," said Higginson. "We've seen a significant drop in demand for vaccination from eligible people over the past couple of weeks. Expanding the high-priority groups and making vaccine available immediately will help ensure we get as many people as possible vaccinated. We don't want to see any vaccine go unused."


Higginson also encouraged parents of children 6-23 months and children with a chronic illness to seek vaccination for their youngsters. As previously reported, starting today excess supplies of children's vaccine will be made available to high-priority adults. This policy is also in line with getting vaccine used by high-priority groups in a timely manner.


Restrictions on the use of inactivated influenza vaccine are now expanded to two new priority groups. The following are priority populations eligible for inactivated influenza vaccine:

a. All children aged 6-23 months;

b. Adults 65 and older;

c. Persons aged 2-64 years with underlying chronic medical conditions;

d. All women who will be pregnant during the influenza season;

e. Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities;

f. Children aged 6 months to 18 years on chronic aspirin therapy

g. Health-care workers involved in direct patient care; and

h. Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children aged under 6 months.

Additional priority groups:

i. Adults ages 50-64 years; and

j. Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of persons at risk for serious complications from influenza (priority groups a through f, listed above)

Oregon currently has six confirmed cases of influenza in six counties (Clackamas, Crook, Klamath, Multnomah, Wallowa, and Washington).


While DHS expects a normal February peak in the flu season, Higginson said now is the time to seek a flu shot.

Oregon is slated to receive 33,000 additional vaccine doses early next year, so there may still be a chance for high-priority individuals to get vaccinated in January, according to Higginson.


Persons seeking information about vaccination should check with their health care provider or they may call the flu hotline at (800) 978-3040 statewide or (503) 872-6900 in the Portland area, or (800) SAFENET.


General influenza information and prevention information is available on the DHS Web site's flu season page.