The Division of Public Health (DPH) issued the following media release today, lifting restrictions limiting the administration of influenza vaccine to Delawareans at high risk of complications.
All residents can receive flu vaccinations as of Feb. 2, according to an order signed today by Delaware Health and Social Services’ Secretary Vincent P. Meconi. The new Order to Remove Influenza Vaccine Restriction reverses limitations for physicians to provide flu vaccine only to individuals in identified high-priority groups.
The new order was prompted by a recent increase in influenza activity, and a decreased demand for vaccine among high-priority residents. With decreased demand, DPH sees an opportunity to protect additional residents with vaccine.
Delaware’s Division of Public Health (DPH) reports 98 confirmed flu cases statewide to date and increasing numbers of influenza-like illness (ILI). Influenza-like illness is defined as symptoms that include a temperature of more than 100º F and either cough or sore throat in the absence of a known cause other than influenza. DPH tracks ILI because most people are not tested for flu, and ILI provides an additional assessment of flu prevalence. All Delaware hospitals report weekly totals of ILI to DPH.
“Eighty-one flu cases were confirmed in January alone, and it’s not too late in the season for a vaccination to be effective,” DPH Director Jaime H. Rivera, M.D., said. “We're aware that vaccine is still out there, and our goal is to get doses used.”
Many medical practices statewide have supplies of flu vaccine, and DPH has 5,972 doses for use in its clinics and for community physicians needing vaccine. Residents are encouraged to contact their physicians to receive flu shots or the following DPH clinics. For location information, go to www.state.de.us/dhss/dph/ofclocations.html.
Physicians who wish to purchase additional vaccine should contact DPH at 1-800-282-8672.
DPH vaccinated 17,719 Delawareans in high-priority groups since October 2004 and distributed 36,178 doses of influenza vaccine to community health care professionals. Overall, the 2004-2005 flu season has been mild compared to the 2003-2004 season, which made national headlines. A year ago today, Delaware had 416 confirmed flu cases.