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DHS news release

 

Sept. 6, 2005                                     

Contact:  Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180

Technical contact:  Grant Higginson, M.D. (503) 731-4829

 

Healthy Oregonians asked to wait for flu shots

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Public health officials in the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced a prioritized approach that will reserve flu shots for those at high-risk until Oct. 24.

 

Today, DHS adopted vaccine prioritization guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) because of anticipated supply issues this flu season. 

 

State public health officials are not expecting the majority of flu vaccine to be available until late October due to various supply issues, but some vaccine shipments are going out this week. Officials are hopeful that there will be more influenza vaccine available than was last year, but that is still unclear.

 

“We expect there may be delays in vaccine shipments, so we want to make sure that people at highest risk of complications get it first,” said Susan Allan, M.D., state public health officer at DHS.

 

Effective through Oct. 23, state public health officials are directing that only people in the following groups should receive flu shots:

  • Children ages 6-23 months
  • Adults ages 65 and older
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • Anyone ages 2 to 64 with underlying medical conditions
  • Pregnant women
  • Health-care personnel who provide direct patient care
  • Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children under 6 months

Allan said the prioritization does not apply to Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV), the nasal spray marketed as FluMistTM.

 

“We encourage healthy people between 5 and 49 who want to be protected against influenza, including health care workers and those who have contacts with infants, to ask for LAIV,” Allan said. “Choosing LAIV means you are helping conserve inactivated influenza vaccine and avoid spreading the flu to others who are more vulnerable than you. Your decision could save a life.”  

 

Kaiser Permanente, Maxim (findaflushot.com), Get a Flu Shot.com, MS Society of Portland, Fred Meyer and Safeway have already agreed to the voluntary prioritization, she said.  The state will monitor the process and if client needs are not being met or the availability of the supply changes, DHS will reevaluate the voluntary approach, Allan said.

 

This year, Oregon SafeNet and the American Lung Association of Oregon are making flu vaccine clinic information available on the Web at www.lungoregon.org/.  People who don't have Internet access can call toll free to (800) SAFENET.