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Aurora addresses flu vaccine challenge

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

MILWAUKEE, Wis., With the news that influenza vaccine will be in short supply this year, Aurora Health Care is taking a number of steps to ensure that the flu vaccine it has received reaches patients at highest risk of complications of the flu.

Aurora is addressing the situation through several avenues. They include:

  • Identifying the number of doses of flu vaccine available throughout the Aurora system
  • Alerting Aurora physicians to the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for administering flu shots
  • Using a patient questionnaire to help individuals determine whether they are at high risk and should be vaccinated
  • Working with local and state health departments to identify additional steps that may be necessary as immunization efforts move forward
  • Instituting federal health guidelines at the Visiting Nurse Association’s Shoo the Flu clinics

``“While Aurora has received a number of shipments of the flu vaccine, the VNA has received a partial shipment of its doses, so we have to focus on high-risk patients to ensure they are protected,`` said Michael Jaeger, M.D., Aurora’s senior medical officer for care management. ``We’ll continue to look at where we have the doses of flu vaccine and shift some supplies to those locations that have greater numbers of at-risk individuals.``

The Centers for Disease Control guidelines emphasize that the following high-risk patients should be vaccinated with the flu shot:

  • Children from 6 months to 23 months.
  • People 65 years and older.
  • Persons ages 2 to 64 years with chronic medical conditions ( e.g. asthma, diabetes).
  • Women who will be pregnant during influenza season.
  • Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
  • Children 6 months to 18 years of age who are on chronic aspirin therapy.
  • Health-care workers whose work involves direct patient care.
  • Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children who are less than 6 months of age.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that anyone who is not in these priority groups forgo or defer vaccination.

``“We encourage patients who may have questions to contact their health provider,`` Dr. Jaeger said. ``“Those who are not considered high-risk are encouraged to take infection control measures such as hand washing and anti-viral medications.``

Aurora received its flu vaccine from Aventis Pasteur. The United Kingdom has ordered another manufacturer, Chiron Corporation, to not ship any of its vaccine leading to the expected supply shortage.

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a nationally recognized leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora offers services at sites in more than 80 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

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Contact: Ron Irwin (414-647-3405)

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