Health and Family Services Cabinet
Flu Vaccine Recommendations May Change Due to Distribution Delays
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 15, 2005) Due to delays in vaccine production and distribution, influenza vaccine supply has varied across the state this flu season. As a result, the Department for Public Health (DPH) recommends that local health departments assess flu vaccine availability and if necessary return to focusing on vaccination of the most vulnerable populations in their communities.
Communities that are experiencing vaccine shortages – either temporarily or for the remainder of the season – may choose to recommend that only individuals in the two highest tiers of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) high risk priority groups be vaccinated in order to protect those at greatest risk for complications of flu.
“All people who fall into these high risk categories should be encouraged to seek influenza vaccination. High-risk Kentuckians should be aware that there is still time to be vaccinated since widespread influenza in Kentucky is usually not seen until December at the earliest,” said DPH Commissioner William D. Hacker, M.D. “The Department for Public Health will continue to work with local health departments throughout the flu season to make sure all available vaccine is distributed as needed.”
The group of people the CDC has identified as Tier One include: individuals 65 years or older with chronic health conditions, residents of long-term care facilities, individuals 2-64 years with chronic health conditions, individuals older than 65 without chronic health conditions, children 6-23 months, pregnant women, health-care workers, household contacts of children and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months.
Tier Two is made up of household contacts of children and adults at increased risk for flu-related complications and healthy people 50-64.
January and February are traditionally the peak months for the illness in the state. As of this date, no culture confirmed cases of flu have been reported this season in Kentucky.
Each year, around 36,000 Americans die of the flu. Many who die are in medically high-risk categories.
Individuals who desire vaccination should continue to contact their providers about vaccine since it may well arrive later than anticipated. Unlike last season, control of the distribution of influenza vaccine was not given to the public health sector, but left in the hands of private manufacturers and distributors.
Healthy Kentuckians, ages 5-49 years, may opt for the nasal spray vaccination, which appears to be in adequate supply throughout the nation.
“We also remind everyone the best way to prevent flu this season is to continue to follow the advice your mother gave you. Wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and stay home when you are sick,” said Hacker.
For more information on the 2005-06 flu season, visit the DPH Web site at http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/Influenza.htm , call the Kentucky Influenza Hotline at (502) 564-5353 or visit the CDC’s Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/