Monday, February 26, 2001

Flu shot season isn't over

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        If you skipped a flu shot this season so that high-risk people could receive the limited-supply vaccine, now it's your turn.

        Tristate health officials say they have plenty of the flu vaccine on hand. Now all they need is patients. They're also warning that flu season is still far from over.

        “Once the sun comes out, and those crocuses pop out, people think it's spring. But winter's not over yet, and neither is flu season,” said Mary Anne Morris, RN and chairwoman of the Flu Vaccine Task Force for Greater Cincinnati.

        The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reports “regional” flu activity in Ohio and Kentucky and sporadic activity in Indiana since mid-February.

        “A lot of people think of the flu season as being earlier than it really is, but historically, the highest number of flu cases occurs in February, March and even into April,” said Dr. Malcolm Adcock, Cincinnati's health commissioner.

        A shot now would provide another six to eight weeks of protection.

        Though it takes 10 to 14 days to become fully effective, the vaccine could lessen the flu's impact if you've been exposed, health professionals said.

        Until recently, manufacturing and shipping delays caused nationwide shortages of the vaccine.

        Northern Kentucky health-care providers were among the hardest hit.

        The Northern Kentucky Independent District Health Department received most of its influenza vaccines in mid-December, three months later than normal, said spokeswoman Peggy Patterson.

        “Since the onset of the flu season was a little later this year, it still makes sense to go ahead and get a shot,” said Gerri Kaminski, CEO at the Health Improvement Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati.

        Northern Kentucky's four public health centers each now have 200 doses of the flu vaccine, Ms. Patterson said.

        Another 1,000 doses are available for distribution if necessary.

        Added Dr. Susy Kramer, medical director of Northern Kentucky health department: “We would like to see people get the vaccine, rather than see it sitting around in our health centers.”

For a flu shot

        Northern Kentuckians can call one of four county health centers in to make an appointment. All area codes are 859.

        • Boone: 525-1770

        • Campbell: 431-1704

        • Kenton: 431-3345

        • Grant: 824-5074.


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