Health and Family Services Cabinet
Department for Public Health Expects More Seasonal Flu Vaccine to Be Available
Some Areas Experiencing Temporary Shortages
(Oct. 7, 2009) FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky Department for Public Health officials expect plenty of seasonal influenza vaccine to be available over the months ahead, but have received reports of temporary shortages in some areas due to early, increased demand.
"We encouraged individuals not to delay getting their annual seasonal flu shots this year, with vaccine arriving earlier than usual in many places around the state," said William Hacker, M.D., commissioner of DPH. "What we're experiencing now are some spot shortages due to increased uptake earlier than normal, but at this time we expect those to be temporary. Flu vaccine manufacturers typically keep shipping vaccine into November and December—or even later—and the federal government says an adequate supply of seasonal flu vaccine will ultimately be available this year. At this point, we are not yet seeing the seasonal type of flu circulating, so there is still plenty of time for Kentuckians to get their flu shots and be protected."
The increased demand for the seasonal flu shot is thought to be tied to increased awareness about the flu season due to widespread activity of 2009 H1N1 influenza (swine flu). The nasal vaccine against the 2009 H1N1 influenza strain began arriving this week in Kentucky in limited quantities, and will be initially targeted primarily to health care workers. The H1N1 shot vaccine should be available later this month, with H1N1 vaccination clinics and greater availability for the general public likely to begin in early November. Vaccination against 2009 H1N1 influenza does not protect against seasonal influenza.
Seasonal flu vaccine is highly recommended for: children age 6 months to 19 years old; pregnant women; people 50 years old or older; people of any age with chronic health problems; people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; health care workers; caregivers of or people who live with a person at high risk for complications from the flu; and out-of-home caregivers of or people who live with children less than 6 months old.
Individuals may also want to talk to their health care provider about whether they should receive the pneumococcal vaccine. This vaccine protects against pneumococcal pneumonia, a relatively common complication of the flu, and there are no current shortages of it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) now recommends this vaccine for all people 65 years and older and for persons 2 to 64 years of age with certain high-risk conditions. A single revaccination at least five years after initial vaccination is recommended for people 65 years and older who were first vaccinated before age 65 years as well as for people at highest risk, such as those who have no spleen, and those who have HIV infection, AIDS or malignancy.
Visit http://healthalerts.ky.gov for information on seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 flu in Kentucky, or follow KYHealthAlerts on Twitter. Kentucky's toll-free influenza hotline number is 1(877)843-7727, and operates from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.