For Immediate Release:
Oct. 5, 2009
Vermont Department of Health
BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health has received reports from a number of health care providers and agencies around the state that they have run out of supplies of the regular, seasonal flu vaccine – as some manufacturers including the largest supplier, Sanofi Pasteur, have delayed shipments or reduced the number of doses they will ship.
As a result, many public flu shot clinics have been postponed, and many patients and health care workers will get vaccinated later than first anticipated. As of Sept. 30, more than 76,000 doses of adult and pediatric seasonal flu vaccine had been shipped from various manufacturers to Vermont. The remainder of the flu vaccine supply is expected to arrive in the state during October and November.
“We have been encouraging nearly everyone to get vaccinated for the regular seasonal flu as soon as vaccine is available to them, but it is still very early in the flu season,” said Health Commissioner Wendy Davis, MD. “Now we are asking Vermonters to be patient and persistent in locating vaccine.”
October is the traditional time when seasonal flu vaccine clinics open, but this season vaccination started unusually early as some vaccine supplies became available in August and September.
The regular flu season typically starts in Vermont each year in December or January, and may continue through April. While flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, illness typically peaks in January.
As of Oct. 5, flu activity in Vermont is characterized as “local.” This means that there are recent reported increases in influenza activity, along with confirmed cases, in the southwest region of the state – as well as sporadic cases of both H1N1 and seasonal flu around the state.
This spring, the 2009 H1N1 flu virus started causing illness in April in the U.S., spread around the world and into the southern hemisphere throughout the summer, and has overtaken the usual flu virus strains as the predominant strain. Nearly all of the influenza detected is the new flu, 2009 H1N1.
Vaccine for the seasonal flu is recommended for nearly everyone 6 months and older, but especially for the very young, the very old, pregnant women and people with chronic conditions that put them at greater risk of serious complications.
Vaccine for the new H1N1 flu is recommended to go first to people who could be most seriously affected if they become ill:
- Pregnant women
- Caregivers and household contacts of children under 6 months of age
- Anyone age 6 months through 24 years
- Health care workers and Emergency Medical Services personnel
- Adults age 25 through 64 with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, chronic heart, kidney or liver disease, diabetes, compromised immune system due to disease or treatment, or neuromuscular conditions
Taking simple every day actions can help keep flu and other infectious illnesses from spreading:
- Wash you hands often and well with soap and water for as long as it takes to sing the “ABC” song. Or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and throw the tissue away. Or cough into your sleeve or the crook of your elbow.
- Stay home when you’re sick until at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. A person is most infectious while having a fever.
Most people who are sick with flu will not need to see a health care provider and can be cared for at home. If you need medical attention, call your health care provider first. It is important for anyone at risk for serious complications to get treatment with antiviral medications early, within 48 hours of first symptoms.
“For anyone who is at greater risk for serious complications, it is well worth discussing antiviral treatment and making a plan with your health care provider now,” said Dr. Davis.
People who are sick with influenza can spread the virus through coughs and sneezes. If you are sick with flu-like symptoms – fever of 100° F plus sore throat or cough, and often headache, muscle and joint aches, fatigue, sometimes vomiting or diarrhea – stay home from work or school for at least 24 hours after fever has gone away without the use of fever-reducing medications.
Extensive information, tools, and resources – including guidelines for deciding about medical care – are available at the Health Department’s Web site: healthvermont.gov or dial 2-1-1. You can also follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/healthvermont.