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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
October 08, 2004

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Donna Leusner
609-984-7160


 
INFLUENZA VACCINE SHORTAGE UPDATE


 

Department of Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. hosted a teleconference call this afternoon to update information on the influenza vaccine shortage. 

“New Jerseyans should not receive a flu shot unless they are in the groups at high risk for complications of influenza,’’ said Dr. Lacy.  “Healthy people between the ages of 2 and 64 years should not get their annual flu shot this year.”

“Every dose of vaccine not administered to an individual at low risk is available to provide immunity from influenza for an individual at high risk for complications of the flu.’’ Dr. Lacy said.

The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in coordination with its Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices, has identified priority groups that should receive influenza vaccine this season; these groups are considered to be of equal importance and are:

  • all children aged 6–23 months;
  • adults aged 65 years and older;
  • persons aged 2–64 years with underlying chronic medical conditions;
  • all women who will be pregnant during the influenza season;
  • residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities;
  • children aged 6 months–18 years on chronic aspirin therapy;
  • health-care workers involved in direct patient care; and
  • out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children aged <6 months.

The afternoon teleconference included approximately 200 health care representatives, county and municipal health officers, elected officials, and business and industry leaders representing large employers and retailers.

Flu vaccine is not the only way to prevent influenza. To prevent the spread of flu and other contagious respiratory diseases, stay home when sick and practice Universal Respiratory Precautions, which include: covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using tissues to contain respiratory secretions and promptly disposing of them, and washing hands thoroughly and often.  

At a Congressional oversight hearing this morning, CDC Director Julie Gerberding reported that CDC hopes to be able to announce an overall influenza vaccine distribution supply plan early next week.  She described how CDC is working with Aventis Pasteur, Inc. advocating for a plan that would allow all public sector high risk vaccine needs (the priority populations identified by ACIP) to be met.

No flu activity has been identified to date in New Jersey. The state’s influenza season typically occurs anytime between October and early April. However, the peak period of occurrence is usually January and February.

The department has set up a hotline to answer questions from the public and health care providers. The number is 1-866-234-0964. The hotline operates Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The hotline will not be operating on Monday, Oct. 11 when all state offices will be closed.

For additional information on influenza, please visit: http://nj.gov/health/flu/faq.shtml

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