From the State Capitol

Thursday, November 4, 2004

The Flu Shot Shortage

The Flu Shot Shortage

Nearly every year, seniors, children, health care workers, and other members of the public make appointments with their health care providers or visit local health clinics to receive their flu shots. The well-publicized shortages in the national supply of influenza vaccines require a different approach this year.

This week, Gov. Bob Holden issued an executive order seeking to limit the influenza vaccination to those identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as being at high risk.

Included on this list are:* Seniors 65 and older.* Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.* Persons with chronic underlying medical conditions* Health care workers* Children 6 months to 2 years old.* Out-of-home caregivers/household contacts for children under 6 months.* Women who will be pregnant during the flu season.

These at risk populations are the most vulnerable to influenza and serious complications once they have contracted a flu virus.

This executive order encourages and requests that all individuals not listed in these high-risk categories forgo their flu shots this year. As the official advocate for the elderly in Missouri and an advisor for early childhood education, I thank all of you that have voluntarily not received a vaccination this year, allowing our most vulnerable citizens the opportunity to receive this protection.

Often in our society we only recognize those for the actions they have done. This is one of those instances when we must acknowledge those who are actively choosing not to act, allowing our most vulnerable citizens to receive the protection provided by the influenza vaccine.

Everyone, especially those who forego their flu shots, is encouraged to adopt the following healthy habits especially during the flu season: * Wash hand frequently.* Use alcohol-based hand rubs. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. * Cover coughs and sneezes with tissue and discard. * Limit contact with infected people * Stay home when you are sick * Check with your physician about getting the pneumococcal vaccination, which protects against pneumonia. Please take care during the upcoming flu season, following these healthy habits and taking a flu shot only if you are at risk. If you want more information on the status of the influenza vaccine, please check the Department of Health and Senior Services Web site at, which will be frequently updated.