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DHS news release

Nov. 8, 2006

General contact: Bonnie Widerburg, 971-673-1282
Program contact: Lorraine Duncan, 971-673-0300

Public health officials promote flu vaccinations

Every year too many people in Oregon get sick or even die from the flu. This season there will be plenty of flu vaccine, and public health officials are encouraging people to line up and get their vaccinations.

"We expect a record amount of flu vaccine, so there is no need to reserve supplies or prioritize who should get it first," said Lorraine Duncan, immunization manager for the Oregon Department of Human Services Public Health Division.

Oregon has now received 802,220 doses of influenza vaccine, which is 75 percent of the total expected this year, noted Duncan.

Not all providers have received vaccine and others are awaiting their full supply, added Duncan, but vaccine will continue to arrive through December. She advised people to be patient and persistent in checking with their health care providers to find out when vaccine will be available.

"There will be enough vaccine. Influenza disease hasn't arrived yet and there is plenty of time to get vaccinated," said Duncan. "Oregon flu cases don't typically peak until February, which means that vaccine can be given into March."

For many people, the nasal spray vaccine FluMist is a good alternative to the injectable vaccine if they are healthy and between the ages of 5 and 49, noted Duncan. However, not all insurance plans cover FluMist and in some cases it may be more expensive than the injectable vaccine.

"A flu shot or the nasal vaccine is an easy way to protect yourself from the misery of flu," said Duncan. "It also keeps you from infecting others, which is important if you care for or have close contact with someone in a high-risk group."

She emphasized that people who are at high risk of complications from influenza or their close contacts in particular should seek vaccination. Those groups are:

  • Children aged 6 months to 5 years,
  • Pregnant women,
  • People 50 years of age and older,
  • People of any age with chronic medical conditions,
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities,
  • People who live with or care for people at high risk of complications, such as household contacts, out-of-home caregivers of children 6 months and younger, and
  • Health care workers.

Because pneumonia is often a severe complication of influenza, Duncan advised people older than age 65 or who have chronic health problems or lung diseases to ask their health care provider if they should also get a pneumococcal vaccination.

Influenza is characterized by abrupt onset of high fever, headache, sore throat, cough and muscle aches. Unlike other common respiratory illness, it is associated with extreme fatigue and loss of appetite lasting several days.

It is estimated that almost 450 Oregonians die of influenza every year; nationally flu kills more than 36,000 people every year.

Information on flu vaccination clinic locations and dates can be obtained by calling 1-800-SAFENET or on the American Lung Association's Flu Clinic Loc​ator Web site.