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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
November 12, 2004

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Donna Leusner or Marilyn Riley
(609) 984-7160


 
New Jersey Expects to Receive 342,000 Additional Flu Vaccine Doses


 

          TRENTONNew Jersey expects to receive 342,000 additional doses of flu vaccine between now and early 2005 under a nationwide reallocation of the vaccine supply, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. announced today.

          New Jersey will use the additional vaccine to protect high-risk people and their high-priority caregivers,” Commissioner Lacy said.  “Local health departments will receive at least 84 percent of their original vaccine orders for this flu season. Some have already started receiving shipments and many have scheduled clinics for eligible residents.”

          The DHSS has been working closely with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Aventis and distributors of Chiron vaccine to make vaccine available to local health departments and other health care facilities in the state.

          New Jersey’s local health departments are receiving 119,360 doses out of 3.1 million currently being distributed nationwide to fill state public health contracts. Local health departments should receive their allocated doses directly from Aventis by the end of next week.

          New Jersey has also been informed that another 223,000 doses of Aventis-manufactured vaccine will be available for distribution to the state’s hospitals, long-term care facilities, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), state centers for the developmentally disabled and other providers.

          The DHSS is now surveying these facilities to determine their current vaccine needs and the amount each will be allowed to order.  About two-thirds of the supply will be shipped in weekly allotments through the end of the year, and the remainder after January 1.

          The 342,000 doses described above are in addition to the 134,000 already received by  local health departments.  Early in the season, Aventis shipped about 49,000 doses to local health departments that had ordered directly from Aventis.  Another 85,000 were made available later to agencies that had ordered Chiron-produced vaccine, either directly or off the state contract.

          The DHSS also announced last week that it has purchased 8,000 doses of injectable, inactivated flu vaccine.  Last week, FQHCs received 4,000 of these doses for patients and staff, and the Department of Human Services received 1,600 doses for residents of the state’s facilities for the developmentally disabled.  This week, hospitals will receive 2,400 doses for employees working in areas where high-risk patients are treated.

          DHSS also plans to purchase another 2,000 doses for use in the event of an emergency or large outbreak in an institution.

          DHSS also announced last week it will purchase up to 7,400 doses of  FluMist, the live attenuated, nasally administered vaccine approved for use by healthy people ages 5 to 49.  The department will make it available to nursing homes and assisted living residences for use in healthy, non-pregnant staff members.  The department already surveyed nursing homes and is now surveying assisted living facilities to assess their interest in receiving Flu Mist.

          Aventis has also shipped vaccine directly to private health care providers in the state, but that total number is not publicly available.

          Currently New Jersey has no confirmed influenza cases, although confirmatory cultures are pending on three possible flu cases.  The nation’s influenza season typically occurs between October and early April, with the peak period of occurrence in January and February.

          “People can protect themselves from flu and other respiratory viruses by avoiding people who are ill, staying home when sick, and practicing Universal Respiratory Precautions,” said Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, state epidemiologist and senior assistant commissioner.  These practices include covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using tissues to contain respiratory secretions and promptly disposing of them, and washing hands thoroughly and often.

          “Seniors and people with chronic health problems should also talk to their doctor about receiving the pneumococcal vaccine, which protects from a type of pneumonia that can be contracted as a complication of influenza,” Dr. Bresnitz added.

          The CDC has identified the following priority groups to be vaccinated this season:

  • children aged 6–23 months;
  • adults aged 65 years and older;
  • persons aged 2–64 years with underlying chronic medical conditions;
  • all women who will be pregnant during the influenza season;
  • residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities;
  • children aged 6 months–18 years on chronic aspirin therapy;
  • health-care workers involved in direct patient care; and
  • out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children less than 6 months old.

          The department has set up a toll-free telephone hotline to answer questions related to the vaccine shortage from the public and health care providers.  So far, the hotline has received more than 21,000 calls.

          Anyone with questions about influenza and this year’s vaccine supply can call the DHSS hotline at 1-866-234-0964 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For additional information on influenza, please visit the department’s web site at: http://nj.gov/health/flu.

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