High Risk Patients Encouraged to Seek Vaccine
Frankfort, KY: Governor Ernie Fletcher announced today that Kentucky is among the first three states to receive virtually all of its supplemental flu vaccine for public health departments to compensate for vaccine that was taken off the market.
Most of the state’s 56 local health departments have received vaccine shipments, with the vast majority likely having received all vaccine they can expect this year. Private providers are expected to get more vaccine over the next few weeks.
Kentucky’s public health sector was able to receive additional shipments of vaccine from Aventis under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s reallocation plan so quickly because it was one of the first states to provide complete information about local health department orders and need.
“We were able to work quickly to get a picture of the vaccine situation in the state because our local health departments have been so responsive. They have worked diligently to address the shortage within their communities, in order to get the available vaccine to those Kentuckians who need it most,” said Governor Fletcher. “This close collaboration will continue in the weeks and months ahead. We urge Kentuckians at high risk for complications from the flu to continue checking with their local providers for vaccine.”
Local health departments are continuing to work with the private providers in their communities to assess vaccine supplies and need.
The CDC has begun working with long-term care provider associations to obtain information to assess the need in long-term care facilities in Kentucky and other states, as part of their reallocation strategy. Local health departments have been asked to encourage their local long term care facilities to participate in the CDC’s online survey, which long term care providers can access on the web at: <http://www.ahca.org> or <http://www.aahsa.org>.
Kentuckians seeking information about flu vaccination can call their local health departments or the CDC’s new central telephone hotline - 1-800-CDC-INFO - available in English and Spanish, around-the-clock, every day of the week. People in the high risk group should also use the CDC’s national hotline to report if they are unable to find vaccine in their local community. Providers should call their local health departments if they have vaccine to distribute, extra vaccine supplies to share or any influenza or flu-like illness in their community.
CDC will use information collected through the hotline in combination with state health department information to direct allocation of remaining vaccine.
Governor Fletcher said, “I’d like to offer my personal gratitude to those healthy Kentuckians who have voluntarily gone to the back of the line for flu shots this year so that those who need it most have a better chance of obtaining vaccine.”
According to the CDC, the nasal-spray flu vaccine is an acceptable alternative to the flu shot for healthy persons ages 5-49.
The group of people at the highest risk for flu complications includes: all children ages 6 - 23 months, adults 65 and older; persons age 2 - 64 with chronic medical conditions, women who will be pregnant during flu season, residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, children 6 months to 18 years on chronic aspirin therapy, health care workers involved in direct patient care, and out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children less than 6 months old.
“Speaking as a physician, I’d also like to remind people that flu vaccine is not the only way to prevent flu and other illnesses that circulate at this time of year,” said Governor Fletcher. “You should follow the advice your mother gave you - wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and staying home when you’re sick - in order to stay healthy.”