Northwest NEWS

October 16, 2000


Public Health recommends changes due to delays in vaccine delivery

KING COUNTY - Public Health - Seattle & King County announced that production delays by certain vaccine manufacturers will result in the late delivery of approximately half of the area's shipments of flu vaccine.
   Despite the delay, federal health officials are predicting that all health care providers should have some supply in October, and have a full supply of flu vaccine by the end of December.
   "We are asking health care providers to first vaccinate those individuals most at risk for complications from influenza as well as their family members and health care workers," said Dr. Alonzo Plough, Director of Public Health - Seattle & King County.
   Those individuals at high risk for acquiring influenza include:
   € Everyone age 65 years and older;
   €Anyone age six months and older who has chronic heart or lung disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, or immune suppression;
   €Children on long-term aspirin therapy;
   €Pregnant women who will be at least 14 weeks pregnant during influenza season;
   €Health care workers, and
   €Household contacts of those at risk of flu complications (listed above).
   "People who are not in these high-risk groups should plan on getting their flu shot in late November or December," said Plough. "The influenza season in King County usually begins in January and lasts through spring, so there is plenty of time to develop protection from a flu shot even if you get vaccinated in December."
   Persons at high risk for influenza-related complications should check first with their health care provider about getting a flu shot. If the health care provider does not have vaccine available, ask for a referral to another local health care provider who has vaccine, or to a local pharmacy where influenza vaccine is available.
   A limited supply of influenza vaccine for persons at high risk for complications will be available at most Public Health clinic sites beginning Nov. 6. Mass flu vaccination campaigns will be scheduled later in the season this year as additional shipments are received. For more information, please call (206) 296-4774.
   Additional information about influenza vaccine availability is also available from the American Lung Association's Flu Hotline (206-441-5100, ext. 83) and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website ( ).
   Pneumococcal vaccination is also recommended for many of the same high-risk persons who should have influenza vaccine.
   "While you're getting your flu shot, it's also a good time to check with your provider to see if you should receive pneumococcal vaccine," said Betsy Hubbard, Immunization Coordinator with Public Health - Seattle & King County.
   While influenza vaccine is given every year in the fall, most people only need one dose of pneumococcal vaccine for a lifetime, and it can be given anytime of the year.