Providers Urged to Order Flu Vaccine
November 24, 2004
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Local health officials are encouraging Contra Costa health providers to order flu vaccine for adults and children for so they can vaccinate their high-risk patients in medical facilities, including physicians' offices, throughout the county.
Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) has been directed by the California Department of Health Services to act as a clearinghouse for nearly 10,000 additional doses of flu vaccine being made available from a number of distributors from now through January. Providers, including physicians, hospitals and nursing homes, place their orders with CCHS' Public Health Division and then purchase the vaccine from a vendor designated by the county. The cost of the vaccine should be about what providers have paid in the past when they have ordered directly from vendors. CCHS is acting as the clearinghouse and will approve the requests in an attempt to be sure there is even distribution of the vaccine throughout the county and to all risk groups.
"We think this is a good way for additional vaccine to get to patients who might become seriously ill if they get the flu. We hope every provider in Contra Costa who needs the flu vaccine will call us immediately," said Francie Wise, CCHS' Communicable Disease Program Chief. (Providers should call 925-313-6740 to order or go to cchealth.org for order information and forms.)
Health providers who order the vaccine will have to agree to use it only for the Center for Disease Control's high priority groups, including people 65 years old and over, women who will be pregnant during the influenza season and residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Wise says she is more optimistic now about the vaccine situation than she was a few weeks ago. In the last few weeks, the county received 8,000 doses of additional flu vaccine, which has made it possible to schedule public clinics in Richmond, Antioch and Concord that will be held next week. Besides the 10,000 doses now being made available to private health providers, Wise says the fact that FluMist nasal spray is now in many drug stores is also encouraging.
"Healthy people between 5 and 49 years old who don't qualify for the vaccine can use FluMist as a perfectly adequate substitute. All people have to do is go to their local drug store and get it from a pharmacist. They don't need a prescription." (To find a pharmacy that has FluMist, log on to findfluvaccine.org..)
For more information, call the Contra Costa Health Services flu hotline at 1-888-959-9911 or go online to cchealth.org
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- Francie Wise