More flu shots on the way

More flu shots will be headed toward Kitsap County in just a few weeks, but that hasn’t cut the restrictions quite yet.

The Kitsap County Health District is expecting about 1,000 more flu shots, said Dana Brainerd, communicable diseases & tuberculosis program coordinator for the health district.

So far, there have been no major cases of the flu reported in Kitsap County. Brainerd tracks flu outbreaks in Kitsap County for the health district. One of the ways she tracks the numbers is by recording how many students are absent from school on any given day. There have been no cases of absentee rates higher than 10 percent in any school, she said.

This will be the third round of the vaccine Kitsap County has received this year, Brainerd said.

Kitsap County is currently out of the flu vaccine, according to the county’s Web site. There has been a nationwide shortage of the vaccine this year. The shortage began in October when Chiron Corp., the manufacturer of the flu vaccine, told the Centers for Disease Control that the vaccine supply has been cut in half, according to a statement from the KCHD. Chiron Corp. can not distribute its flu vaccine to the United States because it lost its license to manufacture the Fluvirin vaccine.

Medical professionals and the health department recommended only those in high-risk categories receive the vaccine.

Kitsap County will continue to follow the CDC guidelines in administering the flu vaccine with the next round of flu shots, Brainerd said.

The high-risk categories include children ages 6-23 months old; adults older than 65; those 2 years old or older who have an underlying, long-term illness; women who will be pregnant this flu season; people who live in nursing homes or chronic care facilites; people who are 6 months old to 18 years old and take aspirin every day; and people who take care of a baby 6 months old or younger.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are allocating flu shots to geographic regions based on the risk of a flu outbreak. The distribution plan is based on high priority population, number of doses already received and the the unmet need in each county, according to the state Department of Health. There are about 7.2 million doses currently in production and Washington will receive about 160,000 of those.

Flu season usually peaks in February or March.

For those who are not able to get flu shots, the health district is urging prevention. Some tips include frequent hand washing, using tissue to cover mouths while sneezing and coughing and the frequent use of hand sanitizers.

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