December 16, 2004
Many Texas doctors and other health care providers who did not have flu vaccine a few weeks ago have it now, and others will receive it in the next few weeks, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
DSHS officials said shipments of some 560,000 additional doses from the vaccine manufacturer to Texas providers began in early December and will continue in to January. Many local and state-operated public health clinics around the state also now have the vaccine.
“We're urging those in the high-risk groups who haven't been able to get a flu shot, to try again,” Texas Commissioner of State Health Services Eduardo Sanchez said. “We want to make sure the high-risk folks are protected. Flu can be a life-or-death situation for them.”
Sanchez also encouraged people 65 and older; people with lung, heart, liver or kidney problems; and people with diabetes, sickle cell disease, alcoholism, HIV/AIDS or other chronic medical conditions to get a pneumococcal vaccination .
That vaccine, which can be given year-round, protects against pneumonia and other illnesses caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae . Pneumonia is often a life-threatening complication of influenza.
Sanchez said anyone in the high-risk categories who wants the flu shot should contact their doctor's office, call the 2-1-1 information service or call the nearest local public health department or nearest DSHS regional office or clinic.
High-risk groups for whom flu vaccination are recommended are: children 6 months through 23 months of age, adults 65 and older, anyone with underlying chronic medical conditions, women who will be pregnant during flu season, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, children 6 months through 18 years on chronic aspirin therapy, medical care workers providing direct patient care and caregivers and household contacts of children under 6 months old.
DSHS supports the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation that the flu vaccine this season be given only to those in the high-risk categories. But Sanchez said DSHS might expand the target groups if the demand for the flu shot by high-risk people drops off.
“The vaccine won't do anyone any good sitting on the shelf,” Sanchez said.
He said it is not too late to get a flu shot. “The flu shot takes about two weeks to offer maximum protection. The height of flu season in Texas typically is in late December, January and February.”
(News Media: for more information contact Doug McBride, DSHS Press Officer, 512-458-7524.)