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FOR RELEASE: October 21, 2004
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

State Health Officials Announce Flu Shot Plan for High Risk Children

The Oklahoma State Department of Health today announced the first phase of a plan to get its limited supply of influenza vaccine, slightly more than 17,000 doses, to those Oklahomans in most urgent need of protection from influenza.

While good news, state health officials caution that the only influenza vaccine currently available through the Oklahoma State Department of Health is for children 6 months to 19 years of age who are medically compromised.

“This vaccine was purchased through the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, which requires that VFC vaccine can only be used for children 6 months to 19 years of age whose families might not otherwise be able to pay for vaccine or whose medical providers have no influenza vaccine,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher.

Crutcher said the vaccine will be targeted for children most at risk for developing complications from influenza, including those who have the following conditions: chronic heart or lung disease, asthma, cystic fibrosis, metabolic disease, renal dysfunction, leukemia or other cancers, immunosuppression, hemoglobinopathies, high risk pregnancy or third trimester during peak flu season, chronic aspirin therapy, diabetes, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and congenital disorders that could reduce immune response.

A total of 10,000 doses of vaccine are being sent to local county health departments with an amount allocated based on population estimates for children in the 6 months to 19 years age group in that county. County health departments will coordinate with the VFC health care providers in their counties to determine the children that meet the risk criteria. The vaccine may be administered through the county health departments or through the VFC providers.

In addition to the 10,000 doses distributed throughout the state, Oklahoma City and Tulsa will each receive 2,500 doses of vaccine.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health will distribute 2,100 doses of preservative-free pediatric vaccine for children 6 months to 35 months of age to high-risk pediatric clinic sites in the state.

This total distribution of 17,100 doses will deplete the state health department’s supply of influenza vaccine. State health officials had ordered 325,000 doses for use during this influenza season. About 90 percent was to be supplied by Chiron Corporation, which announced Oct. 5 that it would not be able to supply influenza vaccine this year.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with Aventis Pasteur, the remaining licensed supplier of influenza vaccine in the U.S., to redistribute its 22 million doses of unshipped vaccine to areas of need throughout the country. To date, state health officials have not been advised how much of this vaccine will be sent to Oklahoma, or when it is expected.

For more information on the influenza vaccine that may be available for children in your area, contact your local county health department.

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