Flu shots reserved for most at-risk

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 13, 2001

Local health care agencies have received only half their allotments of flu vaccine, due to delays in production.

Saturday, October 13, 2001

Local health care agencies have received only half their allotments of flu vaccine, due to delays in production.

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So until the rest of the vaccines arrive, those who need the protection most will be the ones immunized.

&uot;We will follow the recommended guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and target those who are most at risk,&uot; said Lois Ahern, director of Freeborn County Public Health.

Those considered most at risk are:

*&160;People age 65 or older.

*&160;Residents and workers of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities that house people of any age who have chronic medical conditions.

*&160;Adults and children who have chronic disorders of the pulmonary or cardiovascular systems, including children with asthma.

*&160;People with immune system problems caused either by disease or by medication.

*&160;Women who will be in the second or third trimester of pregnancy during the flu season (November through April).

*&160;Children or teens (ages 6 months to 18 years) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy.

*&160;Health care workers in hospitals, emergency, outpatient or nursing home settings.

*&160; Health care workers who deliver care to high-risk patients in their homes.

&uot;We will be sticking firmly to the guidelines,&uot; she said.

Ahern said Public Health is coordinating its efforts with Albert Lea Medical Center to immunize people at risk. Those who live within the city of Albert Lea should receive the vaccine through Albert Lea Medical Center. Those outside Albert Lea can be immunized at clinics in Alden, Clarks Grove, Hayward and Glenville at clinics scheduled during the first week of November.

Ahern said she anticipates that both entities will eventually get the rest of the vaccine ordered, and anyone else who wants the vaccine can get it then. &uot;It takes two weeks to develop immunity,&uot; she said. &uot;People will still be protected if they get it later in November and even into December. The biggest outbreaks I’ve seen have always been in January and February.&uot;

Tammy Williams of Albert Lea Medical Center Infection Control said the goal has been to get into more work sites. With the uncertainty of when the vaccine will arrive, they’re recommending that those who fall into a risk category get immunized as soon as possible.

&uot;Employers really want their employees to get flu shots,&uot; Williams said. &uot;It cuts down on absenteeism.&uot;

She said flu shots really make a big difference in terms of hospitalization and mortality rates each year. And more people who don’t fall into a risk category are getting them because they are health-conscious.

&uot;It’s a safe vaccine,&uot; Ahern said. &uot;People may get a sore arm, but that’s about the only side effect. It’s certainly recommended.&uot;