Flu vaccine ready for seniors

Published 5:24 am Wednesday, October 20, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Almost two weeks after putting all flu vaccination clinics on hold, Berrien County Health Department officials announced they will be conducting vaccination clinics at senior centers throughout Berrien County beginning on next Monday, Oct. 25.
The Berrien County Health Department will be holding flu vaccine clinics for people with chronic medical conditions and children 6-23 months of age in November. Dates have not been set, said Carol Klukas, the Berrien County Health Department Community Preventative Health Services manager.
Klukas said there is not enough vaccine for the general public, but the health department will do its best to provide vaccine for as many people in the high risk groups as possible.
Clinics at senior centers will begin Oct. 25 at the St. Joseph/Lincoln Township Senior Center and continue through Oct. 26 at the Benton Harbor Senior Center, Oct. 27.
Clinics will continue at the Niles Senior Center, Oct. 28 at the River Valley Senior Center, Nov. 1 at the North Berrien Senior Center, Nov. 4 at the Buchanan Senior Services, and the final clinic will be held Nov. 5 at the Central County Senior Center.
The Berrien County Health Department received 3,000 doses from Lakeland Regional Health System, allowing the department to resume holding flu vaccination clinics.
After British regulators shut down Chiron Corp., a major flu vaccine producer, the health department faced a vaccine shortage when 6,500 doses it had ordered from the British manufacturer were not delivered.
However, the health department received 2,100 doses it had ordered from another major vaccine producer, Aventis Pasteur Inc.
The shutdown of Chiron Corp. affected vaccine supplies nationwide, prompting the Center for Disease Control to issue new guidelines on how the vaccine should be distributed.
The guidelines identify high-risk groups as the following: children six to 23 months old, people 65 years and older, people with chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, residents of nursing home or long-term care facilities, and health workers who work directly with at-risk patients, as those who should get top priority for receiving flu shots.
After the department announced all its flu vaccination clinics had been put on hold, Berrien County Health Department officials began working with Lakeland Regional Medical System to acquire more vaccine.
Lakeland gave the health department 3,000 of the 15,000 doses it had received from Aventis Pasteur Inc.
Lakeland will be giving more doses to the health department after vaccinations are given to health care staff and inpatients who fit the CDC guidelines for high risk individuals.
Klukas said the health department is urging healthy people who are unable to get vaccinated to stay healthy by following these guidelines.
Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, preferably with a tissue.
Clean hands after coughing or sneezing. Use soap and warm water or an alcohol based hand cleaner.
Wash hands frequently.
If you get the flu, avoid exposing others by staying home from work or school.
Seniors wishing to get vaccinated must be 65 years and older as of Dec. 31, 2004, and must provide proof of age before getting vaccinated.