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Hells Canyon Journal
Halfway, Oregon
October 27, 2004     Hells Canyon Journal
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October 27, 2004

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Page 12 Hells Canyon Journal October 27, 2004 Baker County To A preliminary statewide assessment identifying the location of flu vaccine sup- plies confirms that every county has shortages at this time. For some counties, the shortages are severe. A re- cent statewide assessment of approximately two-thirds of the major influenza provid- ers in Oregon, completed in mid-October, gave the De- partment of Human Service (DHS) a good picture of vac- cine location and availability in the state. Providers in 16 counties reported they had about 9,300 surplus doses they were willing to share or sell. The Department of Human Services currently has ap- proximately 4,000 influenza doses to distribute among lo- cal health departments. Baker is one of a dozen coun- ties around the state that have vaccinated less than 13 percent of their high-risk group, and will receive a por- tion of this surplus vaccine. The county is slated to get an additional 120 doses. Columbia, Crook, Curry, Lincoln, Linn, Malheur, Umatilla, Union, Waliowa, Wheeler, and Yamhill will also receive a portion of the surplus vaccine. Remaining counties around the state will receive a smal r number of doses each, depending on the county population, to help give health departments flex- ibility in dealing with tar- geted groups. "We are doing it this way to make sure that every part of the state has some vaccine for residents who fall in a high-priority group, and that the limited supply is being shared as equitably as pos- sible across the state," said Grant Higginson, M.D., state public health officer for the More Influenza Vaccine Department of Human Ser- vices. Only people in the follow- ing high-risk groups are cur- rently eligible to receive flu vaccine in Oregon: Children ages 6-23 months; Adults ages 65 and older; Anyone ages 2 to 64with underlying chronic medical conditions; Womenwhowill be preg- nant during influenza sea- son; Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; Children ages 6 months to 18 years on chronic aspirin therapy; Health-care workers who deliver direct patient care; and Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children under 6 months. On October 8, DHS acti- vated a statute and created administrative rules requir- ing healt '.h care professionals to follow the above guidelines. In cooperation with the fed- eral Centers for Disease Con- trol and Prevention (CDC), Aventis Pasteur will release more than 14 million doses of flu vaccine nationwide over the next six to eight weeks to providers serving high prior- ity people, such as nursing homes, hospitals, the Veteran's Administration, public health agencies, and health care providers caring for children. Oregon public health agencies will receive at least 20,000 additional doses in this phase. An additional 8 million doses from Aventis Pasteur will be released later to fill gaps for those who ordered from California-based Chiron, the manufacturer whose Liverpool plant was shut down, according to Higginson. Up to 2.5 million additional doses from Aventis Pasteur should be available for nationwide distribution in January. "We understand that people are very concerned they may not receive a flu shot," said Higginson, "but there is still time for people in high priority groups to seek vaccine. Influenza normally doesn't emerge until the win- ter months, and more vac- cine is coming." Persons in a high-priority group seeking the vaccine should first call his or her primary health care provider. Local health departments, listed in the blue pages or on the DHS website, are another good source of information on vaccine availability. DHS has activated a statewide toll-free Flu Hotline, (800) 978-3040. It is operational Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. "We will continue to keep the public informed as devel- opments occur," Higginson said. "In the meantime, ev- eryone can help avoid spread- ing illness by practicing good personal hygiene." Specifi- cally, he advises: Wash your hands fre- quently to get rid of germs you have picked up. Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Cover your mouth with a tissue or shirtsleeve when you cough or sneeze to avoid spreading germs. Avoid close contact with people who are ill. Stay home when you are sick. 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