Friday, October 22, 2004

Flu shot appointment book full

Health district is giving high-risk groups highest priority

Express Staff Writer

South Central District Health nurse Nancy Porterfield gives David Horre a scheduled flu shot. Due to the nation-wide shortage, mass walk in vaccinations have been cancelled. Express photo by Chris Pilaro

An open vaccination clinic scheduled for Saturday at the new South Central District Health office at 117 Ash St. in Bellevue has been cancelled. Patients with scheduled appointments will still be given shots, but no new appointments will be taken. The 6,000 doses of flu vaccine SCDH received have either been given, or will be given to infants and elderly people, who are considered to be at a higher risk of getting the flu.

District Health was going to provide 250 volunteers with free flu shots, but the nationwide flu vaccine shortage and requests from the Centers for Disease Control not to use the vaccine for such exercises forced the decision, staff said. SCDH is contacting those who volunteered to inform them of the cancellation.

However, volunteers in the high-risk category are being scheduled into current flu clinics that are by appointment only.

District Health has filled 400 appointments so far this year and will honor those who still have appointments, said District Health Communicable Disease & Prevention Director, Tom Machala. If a new allocation is available at a later date pediatric doses will be given first to infants ages six to 23 months.

Due to the shortage, District Health staff said it is important to follow preventative measures to protect against getting influenza or spreading it to others.

Preventative measures include:

Use proper hand washing techniques, especially before eating or after being out in public.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Cover your mouth if you are sniffing, sneezing or coughing.

Do not share eating utensils, drinking glasses, towels, or other personal items.

Refrain from visiting nursing homes or anyplace where someone with a chronic illness resides if you have flu-like symptoms.

Avoid people who may be sneezing or coughing. After visiting public places, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth until you have washed your hands.

Get plenty of rest, exercise, and eat healthily.

The CDC and Aventis Pasteur are working on a plan for a nationwide redistribution of the 22.4 million doses of unshipped vaccine to identified areas of need throughout the country.

For more information, contact SCDH in Bellevue at 788-4335.

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