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Tuesday, November 7, 2000

Flu vaccine late,
but health dept. official
predicts plenty for
Hawaii residents

By Pat Gee

Flu-shot clinics scheduled to begin in late October or early this month at several stores were canceled because vaccine deliveries were late.

But enough vaccine should be coming in soon to meet the needs of all Hawaii residents, says Judy Strait-Jones, coordinator with the State Department of Health's immunization program.

"There will be sufficient vaccine for everyone," Strait-Jones said. The national Centers for Disease Control is making 9 million doses available to doctors in addition to the supplies already ordered, which is "excellence insurance" against running short, she said.

Clinics were scheduled at Costco, Longs Drugs, Times Super Market and Safeway stores, she said.

Judy Walden, director of Castle Home Care, which supplies the flu shots to Longs, Times and Safeway, said she had "no idea" when the vaccine would be available or when they would be notified.

Straub Clinic spokeswoman Ann Nishida said Straub has been giving flu shots at their 17 locations statewide by appointment only since mid-October.

Straub staff members usually administer the flu shots at Costco stores, but Costco's vaccine supply has not yet arrived in Hawaii, so their clinics have been delayed, Nishida said.

Kaiser Permanente started giving flu shots by appointment on Nov. 1, Strait-Jones said.

Manufacturing problems delayed the vaccine, normally available by early September. It is still OK for people to get flu shots as late as December, she added.

According to the Department of Health, priority for the vaccinations should be given to those at high risk for complications from the influenza virus, including:

Bullet People aged 65 and older

Bullet Residents of nursing homes and similar facilities

Bullet Children and adults with chronic pulmonary and cardiovascular disorders, including asthma

Bullet Children and adults who have required regular medical follow-up because of chronic metabolic diseases, including diabetes, renal dysfunction, hemoglobinopathies or immunosuppression

Bullet Persons aged six months to 18 years who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy

Bullet Pregnant women in the second or third trimester of pregnancy during the influenza season

For more information, call the Department of Health immunization program at 586-8332.

E-mail to City Desk

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