October 6, 2004
Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) officials say they support the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations that this year's limited supply of flu vaccine be used on a priority basis to make sure those at high risk of flu complications get first shot at the vaccine.
Texas Commissioner of State Health Services Eduardo Sanchez urged vaccine providers to follow the recommendations and urged the public to cooperate.
“Basically, we need to let the high-risk groups go first,” he said, adding that the shortage will mean that following standard illness control measures will be more critical this season. “If you're sick, stay home from work or school,” he said, adding that other “simple but important” steps include frequent hand washing and always covering coughs and sneezes.
The high risk groups for influenza identified by CDC are: children 6 months through 23 months of age, adults 65 and older, anyone with underlying chronic medical conditions, women who will be pregnant during flu season, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, children 6 months through 18 years on chronic aspirin therapy, health care workers providing direct patient care and out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children under 6 months old.
The CDC recommendations were made after Chiron Corp. announced Tuesday that the British government is preventing the company from distributing its flu vaccine, Fluviron. The company made some 46 million to 48 million doses of the vaccine, about half of the United States supply. Chiron is based in California, but its flu vaccine was manufactured in the company's Liverpool production facility.
DSHS estimates that some 8 million to 10 million doses of the flu vaccine are ordered each year by Texas doctors, companies, health care facilities, supermarket chains and other organizations. It is not known how many of those doses were ordered from Chiron.
Of 543,000 doses ordered by DSHS, 125,500 were ordered from Chiron. Those doses were earmarked for DSHS regional offices to use in vaccinating adults in counties not served by local public health departments.
The balance of the 543,000 doses was ordered from Aventis and is for use in vaccinating at-risk children in the Texas Vaccines for Children Program.
The complete CDC recommendations are available online at: www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/whoshouldget.htm
(News Media: for more information contact Doug McBride, DSHS Press Officer, 512-458-7524.)