Adams County still lacking flu vaccines

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 16, 2000

Mississippi has received its first shipment of flu shots, but Adams County won’t see any of the doses for a while. The state health department sent the first batch — 1,990 of 130,000 requested doses — to the gulf coast, where the flu usually appears first.

&uot;In the past, our surveillance has usually shown flu activity on the gulf coast before any other part of the state,&uot; said state Health Officer Dr. Ed Thompson. &uot;We are sending the first shipment to gulf coast county health departments for residents at high risk — the elderly, chronically ill and health care workers who care for them.&uot;

As new vaccine shipments arrive, they will be distributed to other county health departments. For now, the Adams County Health Department does not yet have any of the vaccines.

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&uot;I wish that we had the vaccine right now,&uot; said state epidemiologist Dr. Mary Currier.

But Currier said only those people at high risk for complications from the flu need to be worried about getting a flu shot soon.

The flu vaccine shortage is not unique to Mississippi. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has guaranteed the production of up to 9 million doses of additional flu vaccine to make up for possible shortfalls experienced by some of the vaccine manufacturers.

Mississippi’s flu season usually begins around mid-December and peaks in January or February. &uot;So there is still time,&uot; Currier said.

It’s difficult to predict from year to year how bad the flu season will be, she said.

&uot;How bad a flu year is depends on the virus,&uot; Currier said. &uot;The worst years are when we have a virus no one has an immunity to.&uot;

Physicians in nine areas of the state help the health department keep track of the flu by reporting early symptoms of the virus.

&uot;We can see in which areas that number (of cases) goes up,&uot; Currier said.

Currier said travel has made it somewhat easier for the flu to spread.

&uot;Anything that affects New York today could affect us tomorrow,&uot; she said. &uot;The flu spreads so easily.&uot;

People at high risk for complications from the flu include:

4Anyone 65 years and older.

4Residents and personnel of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities that house people of any age who have chronic medical conditions.

4Adults and children who have chronic disorders of the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems, including asthma.

4Adults and children who have required regular medical follow-up or hospitalization during the past year because of chronic metabolic disease (including diabetes mellitus), kidney dysfunction, blood disorders or immunosuppression.

4Children and teenagers who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and therefore might be at risk for developing Reye syndrome after influenza infection.

4Women who will be in the second or third trimester of pregnancy during the influenza season.

4Physicians, nurses and other personnel in both hospital and outpatient case settings, including emergency response workers.