Health Officials Estimate Flu Vaccine Shortage at 50,000 Doses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DATE: October 12, 2004

CONTACT: Communication Office
863-7281

BURLINGTON — Health officials met again today with the leadership of the state’s major health organizations and insurers to determine how best to distribute the state’s limited supply of influenza vaccine, and expects to have a plan within the next few days.

A preliminary inventory shows that there are about 36,000 doses of vaccine in the state, some of which has already been administered. Health officials believe that about 50,000 more doses are needed to cover the highest risk groups.

“I wish we had enough vaccine for everyone who wants it,” said Health Commissioner Paul Jarris, MD. “The reality is that Vermont, like all the states, is facing a severe shortfall.”

“We’re very encouraged by the willingness of Vermont health organizations and providers to work together on a solution,” said Dr. Jarris. “We are working hard and fast to come up with the most equitable plan for distributing vaccine, including targeting highest risk population and redistributing vaccine around the state.”

In response to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announcement today that they are working with Aventis Pasteur to redistribute available vaccine to areas of need throughout the country, Jarris said “That’s encouraging, but we must move ahead for a plan for Vermont based the vaccine that we have right now.”

“We are asking for your patience for a few more days while we work out the details of what is a very complex task,” said Dr. Jarris. “Fortunately flu season has not yet begun and we still have a little time to make sure that this is done right.”

“I appreciate that health care providers are supporting this effort by holding off on flu shots while we come up with a solution for Vermont,” Dr. Jarris said. “And I thank Vermonters for their incredible cooperation and patience while we deal with this difficult situation.”

Although a vaccination is the best protection against influenza, it’s not the only protection.

To remain healthy, try to avoid close contact with people who are sick. Wash your hands well and often. Use a hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available. And keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth so that germs don’t have a way in.

If you’re sick, don’t spread your germs to others. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue every time you sneeze or cough. And put the tissue into the trash. If you feel the flu coming on, stay home from work or school.

For questions about flu or flu vaccine, call the Vermont Department of Health during business hours 800-695-0022 (toll-free in state) or visit www.healthyvermonters.info.