Northwest NEWS

October 14, 2002

Features

Public Health issues 2002-2003 flu recommendations

from Public Health - Seattle & King County
   Recently, Public Health - Seattle & King County launched its 2002-3 "flu" (influenza) webpages with information on flu shots, vaccine availablity, Public Health's influenza surveillance, and recommendations for the general public, especially populations at high-risk of flu complications.
   "Let's stay healthy during this flu season. King County offers residents comprehensive flu services, from flu shot to preventive service," said King County Executive Ron Sims.
   "Flu vaccinations this year will begin on October 14th, with top priority given to those with highest risk for influenza-related complications, their household contacts and health care workers.
   All other groups should be immunized beginning in November," said Dr. Alonzo Plough, Director of Public Health - Seattle & King County. "Flu shots are very safe, and their benefits are enormous."
   For complete flu information, please visit the Public Health 2002-2003 flu season webpages at: http://www.metrokc.gov/health/immunization/fluseason.htm.
   Highest Priority Populations
   The highest priorities for vaccinations are people at risk of complications if they get influenza, their family members, and health care workers. Receiving the influenza vaccine beginning in mid-October is strongly recommended for those in the following categories:
   adults and children 6 months and older with chronic diseases of the heart, lung or kidneys, diabetes, or immunosuppression including HIV infection,
   all people age 65 or older,
   residents of long-term care facilities,
   children (6 months to 18 years of age) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy,
   pregnant women who will be past their third month of pregnancy during flu season,
   health care workers, inlcuding those employed in long-term care facilities,
   flu shots are also encouraged for adults and children who live, work, or may come in contact with people at high risk for flu complications.
   This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending an annual flu shot for healthy children 6 though 23 months of age, their household contacts and out-of-home caretakers.
   New research suggests that children under 2 years of age are as likely to be hospitalized with flu complications such as pneumonia as are people over 65 years of age, the group long thought to be at highest risk.
   Two years ago, CDC added all persons aged 50-64 to the primary target group for annual influenza immunization, whether or not they have chronic illness. Also, people living in dormitories or under other crowded conditions and anyone who wants to reduce the chance of catching influenza should get flu shots.
   Pnuemococcal pneumonia vaccine
   "While you're getting your flu shot, you should also check with your provider to see if you should receive pneumoccocal vaccine," said Betsy Hubbard, Immunization Coordinator for Public Health - Seattle & King County.
   Unlike the flu vaccine which could be administered yearly, most people need only one dose of pneumococcal vaccine in their life, and this vaccine can be given anytime of the year. The pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for people over age 65, or who have certain chronic illnesses or immune deficiencies, are residents of long-term care facilities, or are part of certain Native American/Alaskan Native populations.
   If you have specific questions about influenza disease, vaccine or locations for flu shots in your community, you may call Public Health at (206) 296-4774, or call the 24-hour hotline at (206) 296-4949.