Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Ingram: Reserve flu shots for high-risk


Hamilton Co. health commissioner wants timely reallocations

By Matt Leingang
Enquirer staff writer

A public health official Tuesday pledged an effort to make the best use of scarce remaining flu shots in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

Hamilton County Health Commissioner Tim Ingram called on private providers to reserve existing doses for people who fall into high-risk categories.

Those include children aged 6-23 months, people over 65, pregnant women and people with chronic diseases. Healthy people are being asked to skip the vaccine this year.

Physicians, hospitals and pharmacists who have any vaccine left over will be encouraged to reallocate it to those who are in short supply or have none. But no plan has been announced on how that might be done.

As much as 90 percent of the flu vaccine is purchased and distributed by the private sector, making it hard for local governments to gauge what is in the community.

"Is there enough vaccine for everyone in the high-risk groups? All I can say is that we'll do the best that we can," Ingram said.

Contamination problems in a Liverpool, England, plant prompted the British government to suspend the license of Chiron Corp., one of only two companies making flu vaccines for the U.S. market. Chiron was supposed to supply 46 million to 48 million of the U.S.'s total order of 100 million doses.

Frustrations are building over the shortage.

Sherrin Ashcraft of Glendale said she can't find a flu shot for her 79-year-old husband who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a group of lung diseases that obstruct airways.

"I feel like we've been left to the wolves," she said.

Despite the scarcity, some public immunization clinics are moving forward. Only people in at-risk categories will be vaccinated.

Here's the latest on public clinics around the region:

• Butler County has a clinic scheduled 1-7 p.m. today at the health department, 301 S. Third St., Hamilton. Information: (513) 863-1770.

• Hamilton County will administer 2,000 doses of flu vaccine Saturday at Holy Trinity Church and School, 5411 Moeller Ave., Norwood. The clinic will run 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Reservations required. (513) 347-3273.

• Clermont County has nine clinics scheduled this fall. The first is 9:30-11:30 a.m. Oct. 19 at Felicity Social Center, 2002 Main St., Felicity. (513) 536-4026. • Warren County has clinics scheduled 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. Oct. 19 and 9-11 a.m. Oct. 21. The health department is located at 416 S. East St., Lebanon. (513) 695-1464.

• Cincinnati Health Department has 19 clinics scheduled at senior centers. The first is Oct. 25 at the Oakley Senior Center, 3882 Paxton Ave. Reservations required. (513) 981-0981.

• Northern Kentucky Health District has 560 doses - only 25 percent of what it ordered. One hundred doses will be set aside for each of the four counties - Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant. Officials will begin taking reservations at 8 a.m. Friday. Clinics will be held later in October. Call (859) 363-2052.

E-mail mleingang@enquirer.com




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