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Health and Family Services Cabinet
DPH Urges Priority Groups to Get Flu, Pneumonia Vaccinations

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, September 14, 2005  
Contact Information:  Gwenda Bond or Vikki Franklin
(502)564-6786
 


DPH Urges Priority Groups to Get Flu, Pneumonia Vaccinations
Vaccine should go to individuals in high risk groups first

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 14, 2005) The Department for Public Health (DPH) recommended today that Kentucky health care providers, including local health departments, follow new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines prioritizing high risk groups in giving flu vaccine.
 “Because influenza vaccine distribution delays or vaccine supply shortages have occurred nationally three of the last five flu seasons, CDC has recommended that we prioritize high risk groups until late October,” said William Hacker, M.D., public health commissioner. “We do not yet know whether there will be a vaccine shortage this season. This policy will help ensure that there will be enough vaccine available for those at highest risk for complications from the flu.”
 This year, the CDC has broken the high risk groups into tiers, based on the amount of risk each group has for serious complications related to the flu. Given the uncertainties in doses and distribution this season, DPH recommends that all Kentucky health care providers follow the CDC guidelines. According to the guidelines, the following first-tier priority groups should receive flu vaccine in the order below until Oct. 24, 2005 (chart fully showing tiers included at end of release):

Tier 1A

- Individuals 65 years or older with chronic health conditions

- Residents of long-term care facilities

Tier 1B

- Individuals 2-64 years old with chronic health conditions

- Individuals older than 65 without chronic health problems

- Children 6-23 months old

- Pregnant women

Tier 1C

- Health care workers who provide direct patient care

- Household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than 6 months old 

  DPH has already asked that local health departments vaccinate priority groups in a step-wise progression, initially vaccinating the eligible population in category 1A, followed by the population in category 1B, and continuing with category 1C prior to Oct. 24. Kentuckians in these high risk categories should contact their local health departments or primary care provider to find out when vaccination or clinics will be available for their category.
  If an adequate flu vaccine supply is available nationally after Oct. 24, it is anticipated that vaccination will be opened up to everyone. Healthy people aged 5-49 years old who are not pregnant can also receive the nasal flu vaccine at any time.
 However, the flu vaccine is not the only way to protect against complications from the flu. “In addition to flu vaccine, we strongly encourage all adults 65 years or older and others in high risk groups to ask their health care provider about the pneumococcal vaccine, which can help prevent pneumonia, one of the flu’s most serious—and potentially deadly—complications,” said Hacker. “This vaccine is extremely safe, effective, can be taken at any time of year and is currently available in an adequate supply.”
 Pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria and can result in serious pneumonia, meningitis or blood infections. According to the CDC, pneumococcal disease kills more people in the U.S. each year than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined. Between 20,000 and 40,000 deaths are attributed to flu and pneumonia nationally each year, with more than 90 percent of those deaths occurring in people age 65 and older.
 For more information on the 2005-06 flu season, visit the CDC’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/

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VACCINATION TIERS

The tiered system for prioritization recommended by CDC is as follows:

Tier/Category-Eligible People by Tier/Category

1A - Individuals 65 years or older with chronic health conditions, Residents of long-term care facilities

1B - Individuals 2-64 years with chronic health conditions, Individuals older than 65 without chronic health conditions, Children aged 6-23 months, Pregnant women

1C - Health-care workers, Household contacts of children and out of home caregivers of children aged less than 6 months

2 - Household contacts of children and adults at increased risk for flu-related complications, Healthy people aged 50-64

3 - People aged 2-49 without high risk conditions

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Last Updated 9/14/2005