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DHS news release

Dec. 14, 2004


Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180


Technical contact: Paul Cieslak (503) 731-4024


Oregon's first child flu case prompts reminder to parents

The season's first case of childhood influenza--and the first case of flu known to have been contracted in Oregon this year--is a warning to vaccinate children who are at risk of complications from the flu, public health officials in the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) said Monday.


Vaccine designated for children that remains unused after Dec. 21 may be redirected to other high-risk groups.


"There's no doubt, flu is in Oregon," said Paul Cieslak, M.D., DHS communicable disease manager. "This childhood case is a reminder to parents: if your child is in a high-risk group, now is the time to get them protected."


Cieslak said the case is a Type A strain like those found in other parts of the country and is expected to be covered in this year's vaccine. The child is a 9-year-old Crook County girl and is the state's first laboratory-confirmed case of flu contracted within Oregon. She was not in a high-risk group and therefore was not vaccinated.


In mid-November, DHS announced the first laboratory-confirmed case of flu in an adult Portland-area man who had contracted the illness in another country.


Cieslak said that children between 6 and 23 months and children with a chronic medical condition are at risk of serious complications from influenza.


"There is still plenty of vaccine for kids," Cieslak said. "And with recent shipments of additional doses across the state, vaccine is also available for others in high-priority groups."


Cieslak said that if children's vaccine doses remain unused after Dec. 21, it will likely be redirected to other high-priority groups. "We'd like to see kids who need vaccine to get their shots before that happens," 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 influenza Web site.