Herald JournalHerald Journal, Oct. 18, 2004

Sharing the flu vaccine

Public health, clinics, hospitals and nursing homes work toward vaccinating people who need it

By Jane Otto

With the state short almost half its needed flu shot supply, county public health officials are scrambling to get those who need it vaccinated.

In Winsted, whether some St. Mary’s Care Center residents can get a flu shot is a day-to-day matter.

Like most long-term care facilities, St. Mary’s ordered its vaccine supply from Chiron, the English manufacturer that Britain temporarily shut down due to contamination.

St. Mary’s residents are depending on the clinics their doctors are from for vaccines, Director Darrel Schwartz said.

Some residents’ doctors, however, belong to Ridgeview Medical Center, which has no vaccine, Schwartz added.

Sharing supplies

In Wright County, public health officials learned last week that only one of seven nursing homes had some vaccine, seven medical clinics had some doses and three had none.

A meeting last Monday of hospital, clinic, nursing home representatives and Wright County public health officials resulted in facilities sharing their supplies.

Good Samaritan in Howard Lake was able to buy vaccine from an area clinic and will be able to meet its residents’ needs, the care center’s administrator, Kristi Vater, said.

“Our local medical clinics should be applauded for coming together to help meet the needs of the nursing homes in Wright County,” public health spokesperson Christine Austin-Roehler said Tuesday in a news release.

McLeod County Public Health officials also are seeing the same cooperation among medical facilities.

Hutchinson Medical Center and Glencoe Regional Health Services received half and a third of their vaccine supply respectively, McLeod County Public Health Nurse Kathy Nowak said. Both medial facilities will received their remaining supply in October and November.

Most clinics and hospitals have better supplies because their orders were through the French manufacturer, Aventis.

The Glencoe and Hutchinson medical centers also serve the long-term care facilities in their towns, so residents there will be vaccinated, Nowak said.

“It’s a great partnership between private and public organizations,” Nowak said. “That’s kind of our role in public health — assurance in making sure we’re getting vaccine to high-risk people.”

Those older than 65 or the chronically ill fall into that category.

“High-risk people are not at any more risk than others,” Nowak said. “It’s because they are the ones that are most frequently hospitalized or die. ”

Who gets the shot?

o;hly 377,000 doses, the state health department is asking healthy Minnesotans to forego a flu shot this year.

gets the shot?mployee flu-shot clinics were cancelled and 13,000 doses redirected to high-risk people, said John Stiegert with the health department’s communications office.

hot this year.cal Center cancelled two clinics, which were already advertised, due to the shortage, said Karen Neubarth with the Hutchinson Medical Center, which manages the Dassel clinic.

ations office.son center will work with the state and focus on getting the vaccine to high-risk people.

Dassel clinic.edical Center in Waconia, and its satellite clinics in Winsted and Howard Lake, have been receiving many calls, said Kathy Kruger, a spokesperson for Ridgeview.

h-risk people.l and clinics are referring people to the state department’s Web site, www.mdhflu.com, which lists upcoming flu shot clinics, and advising people on some preventive measures,

for Ridgeview.Minnesota Department of Health is taking the lead and we’re following their communication,” Kruger said.

ive measures, as contracted with Homeland Health Specialists to redirect the vaccine supply through flu shot clinics statewide.

Kruger said. nic is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 20 in Buffalo.

ics statewide.for Disease Control is working with Aventis to distribute more than 22 million doses of unshipped vaccine.

0 in Buffalo. struggle will be to get it to those who need it,” Schwartz said.

ipped vaccine.healthy Minnesotans are being asked to follow basic preventive measures, such as washing hands, covering the mouth and nose when sneezing, and staying at home when sick.

Schwartz said.squo;s hand-washing, hand-washing, hand-washing,” Nowak said.

ome when sick.eplied, “It’s way too difficult to know. It’s wait-and-see and hope for the best.”

Th “It’s hand-washing, hand-washing, hand-washing,” Nowak said. best.”

• 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28 at St. Joseph Catholic School common room, 41 First St. E., Waconia. Any questions, call Carver County Public Health at 952-361-1329.

Most insurance plans will be accepted. Please bring your insurance card. Homeland Health Specialists will charge $20 for individuals not insured.

For more clinic locations, visit the Minnesota Department of Health Web site, www.mdhflu.com.

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