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DHS news release

Dec. 7, 2004

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180

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


Many Oregon children still need flu vaccination

State and county public health officials say they want to make sure children ages 6 to 23 months and children with a chronic medical condition take advantage of the additional flu vaccine that Oregon has received.


Two-thirds of the new vaccine for children hasn't been spoken for, officials say, and unused vaccine will be allocated to high-priority adults after Dec. 21.


"Young children face a high risk of serious complications from influenza, just as seniors do," said Grant Higginson, M.D., state public health officer in the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS). "It's important to protect them against the flu."


Higginson said DHS has worked with county health departments and other providers to vaccinate as many high-priority people as possible--but that not all the doses of vaccine intended for children are being used.


Last week, Oregon received additional vaccine, including 16,000 pediatric doses. "Unfortunately, vaccine providers have requested only about 5,000 children's doses," Higginson said. "So we're making one more big push to get kids vaccinated over the next two weeks."


Any childhood vaccine left after Dec. 21 will be made available to other high priority groups, which are made up of adults, according to Higginson. "However, some of our lowest rates of vaccination are among children, I'm hoping parents of high-priority kids get them in for a flu shot this month," he said.


To ensure that those people at greatest risk of developing serious complications from the flu are covered, Oregon's vaccine prioritization plan allows vaccination only for those people in the following high-priority groups:

  • Children ages 6-23 months;
  • Adults ages 65 and older;
  • Anyone ages 2 to 64 with underlying chronic medical conditions;
  • Women who will be pregnant during influenza season;
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities;
  • Children ages 6 months to 18 years on chronic aspirin therapy;
  • Health-care workers who deliver direct patient care; and
  • Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children under 6 months.

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 immunization Web site .