KI Distribution Public Meeting Set for March 20

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 19, 2007

CONTACT:
Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON, VT – The Vermont Department of Health wants residents in the emergency planning zones around the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station to know that potassium iodide tablets, distributed since April 2002 are about to expire. New supplies of potassium iodide are expected to arrive in Vermont by mid-April.

A public meeting about potassium iodide is scheduled for March 20, 2007 at the American Legion Hall in Brattleboro at 7:00 PM, for people in the six emergency planning zone towns of Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, Halifax, Marlboro and Vernon. Staff from the Vermont Department of Health and Vermont Emergency Management will explain plans for re-distribution. They will also discuss plans for the initial distribution of liquid potassium iodide.

Potassium iodide (also known as KI) is a drug that can block exposure to radioactive iodine if taken in an appropriate and timely dosage. Radioactive iodine is one of the contaminants that may be released in a nuclear accident or similar event. Exposure to radioactive iodine can increase the risk of thyroid cancer.

“There is no substitute for following emergency instructions, such as shelter-in-place or evacuation orders,” said Acting Commissioner of Health Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN. “But potassium iodide is one protection we can distribute in advance and that’s why we began offering it five years ago. The Health Department will issue instructions if and when potassium iodide is to be taken, in the event of a nuclear emergency,”

Potassium iodide has been available to anyone who works or lives in the six towns, as part of Vermont’s emergency preparedness effort. The distribution program provides one dose per person, and participation is voluntary. Parents/guardians are also eligible to receive a free dose for each child in their family. Public schools, nursing homes, hospitals, some childcare providers and private schools also have KI distribution plans in place.

Between 2002 and 2004, approximately 14,000 tablets received from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission were distributed by the Health Department District Office in Brattleboro, and by several local pharmacies.

“If you participated in our distribution program, you will have potassium iodide tablets that are marked to expire at the end of March 2007,” said Moffatt. “We have word from the federal Food & Drug Administration that the potassium iodide will still be effective up to two years beyond its marked expiration date, if it has been stored as directed on the package instructions – kept dry in its foil packet at room temperature.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued a two-year extension of the expiration date for supplies of KI that have been properly stored by the state. These supplies are considered to be effective until 2009. By April of 2007, Vermont officials expect to get a new supply of KI in the form of 130 mg tablets (the full adult dose) and 65 mg tablets (the full child dose) that will not expire for seven more years.

In addition, the state now has a supply of liquid KI, which is easier to administer to children and others who may have difficulty taking tablets. Liquid KI will be distributed to childcare centers and schools.

More information about the Vermont KI distribution program can be located at http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/rad/KI_program.aspx

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