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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
October 05, 2004

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Jennifer Sciortino
609-984-7160


 
Commissioner Encourages Flu Vaccine be Reserved for Individuals at High Risk


 

TRENTON – In light of today’s announced shortfall in flu vaccine nationwide this season, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. is encouraging individuals at low risk for complications due to influenza, to forego or defer flu vaccination this season.  This is necessary to maximize the availability of the vaccine for those at high-risk for serious influenza-related health complications.

 

“Because the U.S. vaccine supply will be only half of that originally anticipated, this flu season will be a significant challenge,” stated Dr. Lacy.  “It is essential that the public health and healthcare communities and the general public work together so that people at highest risk of influenza related health complications are protected during this time of limited flu vaccine supply.”

 

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Preventin (CDC) to monitor the situation and determine what additional vaccine, if any, is available for purchase through the remaining manufacturers - Aventis Pasteur and MedImmune. 

 

Today, the CDC, in coordination with the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP), issued interim recommendations for influenza vaccination this season.   High-risk groups who are a priority for vaccination with the flu shot include: 

·         All children ages 6 to 23 months

·         Adults age 65 and over

·         Individuals age 2 to 64 with underlying chronic medical conditions

·         All women who will be pregnant during influenza season

·         Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities

·         Children 6 months to 18 years of age who are on chronic aspirin therapy

·         Healthcare workers with direct patient care

·         Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children age 6 months and younger

 

Persons who are not included in one of the priority groups above should be informed about the urgent vaccine supply situation and asked to forego or defer vaccination. 

 

Vaccination is not the only means for preventing influenza.

 

“We urge everyone to follow Universal Respiratory Precautions: 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,” said Dr. Lacy.

 

Influenza is primarily spread from person to person through the air. Virus particles are released into the air through coughing and sneezing of persons who are ill with influenza.  The "contagious" period varies, but generally begins the day before symptoms appear and extends for about one week after the first symptoms appeared. In New Jersey, influenza typically occurs any time between October and early April. However, the peak period of occurrence is January and February.

For additional information on influenza, visit: http://nj.gov/health/flu/faq.shtml. 

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