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FOR RELEASE: October 14,2004
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

State and Local Public Health Officials Continue to
Address Influenza Vaccine Shortage

Oklahoma State Department of Health officials said today that they continue to try to identify any gaps that may occur among those persons in high-risk groups needing influenza vaccination and the limited vaccine that will be available during the current vaccine shortage.

“It will be several more days before we have a clear picture of how much additional influenza vaccine Oklahoma can expect to receive,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher. “We want to assure that what is received is directed to those persons whose health might otherwise be compromised if they have influenza.”

Currently, no influenza vaccine is available through local county health departments. For those private vaccine providers who have or expect to receive influenza vaccine, the Oklahoma State Department of Health is recommending discretion when prioritizing vaccine so that it is only given to those in the higher urgency groups, including children or adults with serious medical conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, lung disease or heart disease.

State and local public health officials also recommend that persons over age 65 as well as those aged 2 and older who have chronic health conditions should check with their health care provider to see if they need a pneumococcal
vaccination. While this vaccination is not recommended annually for healthy persons, for high-risk persons who may acquire influenza, the shot could provide crucial protection from pneumococcal pneumonia, a common complication of influenza. The vaccine is available through physician offices or local county health departments.

State public health officials have initiated an influenza vaccine redistribution network to redirect vaccine already delivered or anticipated by some companies in Oklahoma to those persons whose health places them in a high-risk category. Companies interested in participating in this effort should contact Dorothy Cox, Assistant Chief, Immunization Service, Oklahoma State Department of Health, 405/271-4073.

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