Nov. 30, 2004

Contact: Janelle Martin, Lawrence-Douglas County Health Dept., (785) 843-3060; or Todd Cohen, KU,
(785) 864-8858.

KU, county health department work together to offer flu vaccine, Dec. 12 clinic

LAWRENCE -- Additional flu vaccine has been obtained by the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department with the assistance of Student Health Services at the University of Kansas, enabling both to staff a mass dispensing clinic next month.

Approximately 1,300 doses of flu vaccine will be available for distribution to people in the Centers for Disease Control's high-priority groups. The clinic will run from noon until 4 p.m., or while supplies last, Sunday, Dec. 12, in Allen Fieldhouse at KU. The doses of flu vaccine were secured by KU Student Health Services and sold to the health department for re-allocation.

"We were extremely excited when we were notified that we would be able to get more vaccine," said Myra Strother, M.D. and chief of staff at Watkins Memorial Health Center at KU. "We immediately started conversations with the health department on plans for helping out the KU, Lawrence and Douglas County communities.”

The health department has been advised by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment that it, too, will receive additional flu vaccine. If that vaccine arrives by the 10th, there will be more than the 1,300 doses available Dec. 12.

“We believe we are fortunate that both Watkins and the health department can work together to address a need in the community,” said Kay Kent, director of the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. “We look forward to working with Watkins' staff in this clinic.”

In addition, the health department has continued conversations with KDHE to secure additional vaccine for other local health care providers in the county. This vaccine, too, should arrive no later than mid- to late January.

As a reminder, the CDC's high-priority groups for receiving flu vaccine are:

• adults 65 years and older
• children ages 6 months to 23 months
• people 2 to 64 with chronic lung or heart disorders including heart disease and asthma
• pregnant women
• people 2 to 64 with chronic metabolic diseases (including diabetes), kidney diseases, blood disorders (such as sickle cell anemia) or weakened immune systems, including people with HIV/AIDS
• children 6 months to 18 years on chronic aspirin therapy
• residents of nursing homes and chronic-care facilities
• out-of-home caregivers and household members of infants younger than 6 months (children younger than 6 months cannot be vaccinated)
• health care workers who provide direct, face-to-face, hands-on patient care to those in the priority groups with regular frequency

The charges for flu shots are as follows: children less than 3 years of age, $12; all others, $17. The health department does not deny service to anyone based on an inability to pay for services. People with Medicare, Medicaid, Blue Cross/Blue Shield or Healthwave should present their cards for billing purposes.

Last month, the health department conducted a mass dispensing exercise at Free State High School where 1,432 shots were given to those in the CDC priority groups. Two weeks ago, the health department and KU's student health center worked together to re-allocate enough vaccine to address the needs of the remaining individuals in licensed assisted-living and nursing homes in Douglas County who had not been vaccinated. The health department continues its children's flu vaccine clinic during normal clinic hours for those who qualify.

For questions concerning the availability of flu vaccine, the public may call the health department's clearinghouse at (785) 843-0721.

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