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FOR RELEASE: October 5, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn

Flu Shot: Better Late than Never

The slight turn of cooler weather expected in Oklahoma this weekend makes us think of fall – and the flu. This is usually the time of year when we begin to make plans to trek to our health care provider or public flu vaccination clinic for our annual flu shot. But things are different this year. Manufacturers of flu vaccine have encountered production problems prompting a delay in the delivery of flu vaccine. As a result, some healthy adults who like to get their flu shots early may have to wait a bit longer.

State health officials, who normally would have their flu vaccine supplies shipped to county health departments and nursing homes by now, anticipate they will receive most of their supply by Thanksgiving. This delay means public flu clinics may not start until late November or December. As the vaccine becomes available, priority will be given first to senior citizens aged 65 and over; persons with chronic conditions such as heart or lung problems, diabetes, or asthma; women who are in their second or third trimester of pregnancy; and health care workers who provide direct care. When the supply of flu vaccine increases, these recommendations will be expanded to include persons who are between the ages of 50 and 64 as well as other healthy adults.

Even though most people will get their flu shot later than usual this year, health officials advise that there still should be plenty of time to get the shot before the flu season peaks. It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to be fully effective. Typically, flu activity in Oklahoma does not peak until January or February.

In spite of the delays, health officials still encourage Oklahomans to get the flu shot. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu vaccine is the best tool to prevent severe illness and death related to influenza among the elderly and chronically ill.

Health officials also recommend that persons age 65 and older and those with chronic health conditions get a pneumococcal vaccination to reduce pneumonia resulting from influenza or other respiratory illnesses. Pneumonia is the leading cause of hospitalizations in Oklahoma.

To learn when flu shots will be available in your area, contact your health care provider, local county health department, pharmacist, or visiting nurse association.


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