Pennsylvania to distribute 340,000 doses of influenza vaccine to most in need

Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Calvin B. Johnson today announced that the Department of Health will distribute about 340,000 doses of influenza vaccine that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made available to Pennsylvanians most in need.

"Unfortunately, as a result of the nationwide vaccine shortage, it is possible that not all high-risk people who need and want a vaccination will be able to receive one," said Dr. Johnson. "However, these doses we will be receiving from the CDC will mean that 340,000 more high-risk Pennsylvanians will be able to receive their vaccination."

Distribution will begin with influenza vaccine being sent to facilities serving those at greatest risk from complications such as residents and staff of long-term care facilities, hospital patients and caregivers, and other health-care providers that target CDC designated risk-groups.

The Department of Health will work with CDC so that manufacturer Aventis Pasteur can ship directly to health-care providers in Pennsylvania over the coming weeks. The Department is finalizing plans of exactly who will receive the vaccine and how much they will get.

So far, the Commonwealth has received more than 1.7 million doses of vaccine, which was distributed by the public and private sector. At least 3 million Pennsylvanians are considered at high-risk.

In addition, Dr. Johnson renewed his call to the health-care community, businesses and retail stores to administer vaccine only to high-risk people and to notify the Department if they have extra vaccine that can redistributed to high-risk individuals.

The Department has set up a provider influenza vaccine line for businesses if they have vaccine that can be redistributed to high-risk persons. That line, (717) 787-5681, is staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Influenza vaccine will not be available to consumers at this number.

As the flu and cold season approaches, it is important to remember that following these basic steps can help prevent the spread of germs to others: Wash hands thoroughly before and after preparing food, before eating and after using the restroom.

Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and wash your hands to prevent spreading germs to objects like doorknobs and other household items.

Get plenty of rest, eat properly and dress appropriately for the weather. Minimize time in crowded areas during the flu season, when the risk of exposure to germs increases.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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