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Flu Update at Duke

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

Duke is responding to the national shortage of flu vaccine. While we realize the flu is a major nuisance for many people, it can be much more serious for some patients. For this reason, Duke has developed a plan to use its limited supply of flu vaccine in a way that provides the most protection to the patients we serve.

Adult Flu Vaccinations

In accordance with the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and our limited supply, Duke will direct its supply of vaccine to patients who are at high risk for complications from the flu and employees who care for the highest-risk patients. Vaccinations for these groups will begin in early November. For more information on the CDC criteria for high risk categories of patients, please see http://www.cdc.gov/flu

Duke is continuing to work with local and regional providers and institutions, as well as governmental officials, to explore all options for securing more vaccine, and we are hopeful that additional doses will become available. Regardless of how much vaccine we ultimately receive, we will be guided in the distribution of vaccine by our commitment to protect the health and safety of our patients.

We encourage patients to access alternate sources of vaccine, if possible. For example, Blue Cross/Blue Shield still has vaccine and individuals with insurance coverage who meet the CDC's criteria for high-risk groups are eligible for flu shot clinics through BCBS. A schedule is available on the web at http://www.bcbsnc.com/flu/index.cfm, or by calling 866-617-3797.

Please remember that vaccination is not the only way to protect you and your family from the flu. Respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette and frequent hand washing are the best protection against respiratory viruses. Also, other medications can shorten the duration of symptoms for those who do contract influenza.

Pediatric Flu Vaccinations

The Pediatric Practices of the Duke Health Centers at Southpoint, Pickett Road, and Roxboro Road began giving flu vaccines on Wednesday October 13, 2004.

We will be immunizing only the highest risk patients:

Children 6 months - up to but not including 24 months.

All children over 2 yrs with a high risk condition like asthma, sickle cell disease, metabolic disorders, diabetes, renal disease, immunocompromised patients, and chronic medical conditions. Note, children who have had only one episode of wheezing in their life and do not have a diagnosis of asthma are not considered in the high risk category.

At this time, due to vaccine shortages we will be unable to immunize household contacts of high risk children or siblings of household contacts of infants under 6 months of age.

The only flu vaccine we have available, at this time, contains the preservative Thimerosal. It is licensed for children 6 months and up. We do not know if or when we will get the preservative free vaccine.

All flu vaccines will be given by appointment only. If a child already has an appointment for a well child check and is in a high risk category, he/she may receive the flu vaccine at that time, if still available. There is no need to make a separate appointment.

Children who should get a second dose of the vaccine should call back 4 weeks after the initial dose to see if we still have available vaccine. We will not make any second flu vaccine appointments at this time.

Presently, we do not have a supply of Flu-Mist

We regret our inability to provide flu vaccines all qualified patients given the short supply of vaccine. Thanks for your understanding.

CDC Guidelines

The existing flu vaccine supplies should be given to protect people who are at greatest risk from serious complications from influenza disease.

Everyone in this group should seek vaccination:

People 65 years of age and older

Children ages 6 months to 23 months

Adults and children 2 years of age and older with chronic lung or heart disorders including heart disease and asthma

Women who will be pregnant during the influenza season

Adults and children 2 years of age and older with chronic metabolic diseases (including diabetes), kidney diseases, blood disorders (such as sickle cell anemia), or weakened immune systems, including persons with HIV/AIDS

Children and teenagers, 6 months to 18 years of age, who take aspirin daily

Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities

Household members and out-of-home caregivers of infants under the age of 6 months (Children under the age of 6 months cannot be vaccinated.)

Health care workers who provide direct, hands-on care to patients.

Who should go without vaccination?

Healthy people 2 to 64 years of age are asked to postpone or skip getting a flu shot this year so that available vaccine can go to protect those at greater risk for flu complications.

What about the nasal vaccine, FluMist®?

FluMist®, the nasal-spray flu vaccine, is an option for healthy individuals, ages 5 to 49 years of age. FluMist ® is not recommended for health care workers taking care of severely immunocompromised people when they are in a protective environment and cannot be given to pregnant women.

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