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Hawaii News

State flu vaccine in good supply

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BRUCE ASATO / 2008
Teacher Catherine Caine comforted Deja Nako as public health nurse Edith Mattice of the state Department of Health administered a flu vaccination at Waikiki Elementary School.
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A sufficient supply of flu vaccine is available for Hawaii residents as the flu season approaches, health officials say.

The Hawaii Medical Service Association is launching its annual flu shot clinics at shopping malls, community colleges and supermarkets statewide, beginning next week and running through November. Immunization is free for HMSA members and $40 for nonmembers. Nearly 50,000 doses of flu vaccine will be available for the clinics.

Though the H1N1 pandemic was recently declared over, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommend that everyone get vaccinated as the strain is still circulating.

"It’s still causing problems," Hawaii chief epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said, noting that current H1N1 cases are in New Zealand and the South Pacific.

WHO SHOULD GET VACCINATED?

» Senior citizens, 65 or older; and children, 6 months to 2 years
» People living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
» Those with chronic heart or lung conditions, including asthma
» Those with other chronic conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease
» Those with compromised immune systems (caused by immune diseases, certain medications and HIV infection)
» People with other conditions such as seizure disorder or muscle disorders
» Pregnant women
» Women who will be pregnant during the influenza season
» Health-care worker or caregiver to people from any of the high-risk groups mentioned above.

Source: Hawaii Department of Health

The flu attacks the respiratory tract and can cause complications for children, pregnant women, senior citizens and those with chronic health conditions. This year’s flu vaccine contains an H1N1 component.

The Queen’s Medical Center currently has 500 flu shots on hand and is expected to receive 5,000 more next week.

At Tripler Army Medical Center, flu vaccine is available for servicemembers scheduled to be deployed. More vaccine is expected to arrive by the end of the week, spokeswoman Jan Clark said.

Various hospitals and clinics statewide are expected to receive more shipments throughout the flu season, which typically runs from October through May. However, with the state’s tourist presence and tropical climate, flu is seen year-round here.

Children and senior citizens are among the high-risk groups that officials recommend get vaccinated. According to the Department of Health’s Injury Prevention Program, influenza/pneumonia was among the top 10 causes of death for Hawaii residents 65 and older between 2005 and 2009, with 217 deaths attributed to flu for that age group in that period. The leading cause of death for residents 65 and older was heart disease.

On the Net:

» Vaccinations sites and dates:
www.hmsa.com/mediacenter/print/assets/flushot_schedule.pdf

Both flu and pneumococcal shots will be available at the Seniors’ Fair, Sept. 24-26 at the Neal Blaisdell Center Exhibition Hall’s Pikake Room, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day.

For children, officials recently announced the upcoming Protect Hawaii’s Keiki: Stop Flu at School program to run from Oct. 12 to Dec. 2. The voluntary program allows elementary and middle school students to get a free flu shot or nasal spray.

 

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