Health officials relax flu-shot guidelines | VailDaily.com

Health officials relax flu-shot guidelines

Tamara Miller
AP Photo/Poughkeepsie Journal, Lee FerrisDutchess County Health Department nurse Evelyn Costello gives Phillip Spencer of Hyde Park his flu shot during the first Dutchess County flu vaccine clinic at the Regina Coeli School in Hyde Park, N.Y., in this Oct. 15, 2004. A line formed around the building before the doors opened for those eligible for shots.
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EAGLE COUNTY ” Health officials are relaxing flu-shot restrictions because warnings of a shortage are keeping too many away.

Health officials in October recommended that healthy adults delay or skip a flu shot this season to save vaccine for the estimated 98 million people in the country who are most at risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from the illness ” the elderly, infants or those with chronic health problems.

Now many states, including Colorado, are urging those 50 and over or 12 and under to get a shot.

Locally, health officials also say anyone healthy, over the age of 12 or younger than 50, should be immunized by a flu mist ” a vaccine inhaled through the nose.

Eagle County has a sufficient supply of flu vaccine and has even sent some of it to Chaffee County in central Colorado, which needed more, said Jill Hunsaker, the county’s public health manager.

“Some states didn’t get very much and then there were some states where the coverage is pretty good,” Hunsaker said. “We just happened to get lucky.”

There has already been one documented case of the flu in Eagle

County, Hunsaker said.

Colorado’s flu season peaks next month. A person becomes immune two weeks after receiving a vaccine, she said.

“People really should come in and do it now,” Hunsaker said.

County health officials had a steady stream of those high-risk people the first four weeks, but that influx has tapered off recently.

“We still have a lot left,” she said.

More than half of all elderly or chronically ill adults have not even tried to get flu shots because they thought they would not be able to get one, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

However, county health workers have done a good job of getting higher risk people in for flu shots, Hunksaker said.

One problem affecting supply is that a flu shot is only good for the flu season it is made for. Any excess must be disposed of at the end of the season.

Flu season begins in the fall and can last through April.

“Many of us are now concerned we will not use vaccine supplies. The only sin this season is to leave vaccine on the shelf,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an influenza vaccine expert and head of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tamara Miller can be reached at tmiller@vaildaily.com

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