Press Release

January 28, 2005


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, today announced that restrictions on the use of the flu vaccine have been lifted and vaccinations are now open to anyone who wants a shot.

“Local health care providers have done an outstanding job in making sure those at highest risk of serious illness from influenza were first provided the opportunity to be vaccinated,” Dr. Whitaker said. “It is now appropriate to use what’s left of the limited vaccine supply to offer protection to as many people as possible.”

Dr. Whitaker’s decision follows a recommendation Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to the states to broaden vaccine use where supply is sufficient.

Vaccine availability may vary by location around the state and persons seeking a flu shot should check with their health care provider or local health department.

Although influenza activity has been off to a slow start this year, the flu season typically extends through April and traditionally peaks in January or February. Nearly 3,000 people in Illinois died of flu and pneumonia-related causes in 2002, the most recent year for which complete statistics are available.

“Unless you already have the flu, it’s not too late to get a shot and be protected,” said Dr. Whitaker. “Vaccination offers the best protection from influenza and receiving the shot now can prevent infection during the time that the flu is most likely to occur.”

Priority should still be given to those in the high-risk population and local agencies have been instructed to confirm the vaccination needs of persons in the highest risk categories have been met prior to implementing any changes.

Those persons considered as high-risk include:

  • Children ages 6 months to 23 months;
  • Persons 50 years of age and older;
  • Persons 2 to 64 years of age with underlying medical conditions;
  • Pregnant women;
  • Residents of long-term care facilities;
  • Children ages 6 months to 18 years of age who are on long-term aspirin therapy;
  • Household contacts of persons in the high-risk group;
  • Health care workers providing direct patient care; and
  • Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children younger than 6 months of age.

In early October, it was learned that a major U.S. flu vaccine supplier could not ship its product because of contamination at its plant, cutting the nation’s vaccine supply nearly in half. Due to the resulting shortage, the CDC instructed states to earmark available vaccine for persons at highest risk of complications from influenza.

In December, however, with vaccine still available, CDC suggested that states open eligibility for the vaccine to persons 50 years of age and older. On Dec. 29 the Governor announced the state would follow the CDC’s latest recommendation.

So far this flu season, 1.7 million doses of vaccine have been shipped to health care providers statewide.







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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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