Flu Vaccine Shortage Cancels Contra Costa Flu Clinics, Limits Flu Shots to Only Most Vulnerable People
October 6, 2004
Contra Costa Health Services is canceling all of the Public Health adult drop-in flu clinics for this year because of a shortage of flu vaccine in Contra Costa and the nation. The shortage is the result of manufacturing problems experienced by a major flu vaccine producer. Twelve clinics located mostly in senior centers and community centers around the county are affected by the cancellation.
Because of the very limited supply of flu vaccine, Contra Costa Health Services will be restricting flu vaccinations for patients to priority groups listed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in their guidelines issued on October 5.
"We are asking private providers and the public to strictly adhere to CDC’s flu vaccination recommendations, as these are aimed at protecting those who are at most risk for serious illness or even death from the flu," says Wendel Brunner, MD, Public Health Director for the county. Kaiser Permanente has already agreed to adhere to the guidelines.
Dr. Brunner describes the priority groups for immunization identified by the CDC as at greatest risk from flu as: all children aged 6-23 months; all adults aged over 65 years; persons aged 2-64 years with underlying chronic medical conditions; all women who will be pregnant during the flu season; residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities; children aged 6 months-18 years on chronic aspirin therapy; healthcare workers involved in direct patient care; and out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children aged less than 6 months.
"Healthy persons aged 2-64 years are at low risk of flu complications and should not be immunized this year due to the shortage of the vaccine," says Dr. Brunner.
"Influenza is a serious disease -- it kills more than 30,000 Americans a year especially in the high-risk groups. However, the severe symptoms and complications -- including pneumonia, which leads to many of the deaths -- are often preventable by vaccine. The federal government should guarantee an adequate supply of the vaccine to protect Americans every year," says Dr. Brunner.
Dr. Brunner advises residents belonging to the priority groups to get in touch with their health providers to get vaccinated. He also encourages all residents to get flu and flu prevention information from the Health Services website or by calling the flu hot line at 925-313-6469.
# # #