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County health department plans flu vaccine clinic

November 10, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE and BRIAN SHAPPELL

julieg@herald-mail.com
shappell@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County Health Department will hold a flu clinic Nov. 29 for people who meet at least one of two Centers for Disease Control and Prevention priority listings, County Health Officer William Christoffel said Tuesday evening at the Washington County Economic Summit.

To be eligible, people must be age 65 or older, or have notes from their doctors indicating they have chronic conditions, he said.

Christoffel would not say where the clinic would be held because he doesn't want ineligible people to show up.

Those who are eligible and want to make appointments for the flu clinic should call Nov. 22 or 23, Christoffel said. He would not release the specific phone number to call for the appointments, but said the department would advertise the number in the newspaper Nov. 21.

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He said the doses the health department is to receive from Aventis Pasteur are being distributed by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Christoffel said he did not know how many doses the county health department will receive in total.

About a week ago, the health department sent almost 1,000 doses of the vaccine to nursing homes in the county, to be given to the residents, Christoffel said. That supply came from the state health department and Washington County Hospital.

Health departments across the country, including the Washington County Health Department, faced shortages of flu vaccine after British regulators shut down Chiron Corp. in early October. The British company was to produce at least 46 million doses of the vaccine for the United States this flu season before its Liverpool, England, plant was closed because of contamination.

While the Washington County Health Department and private doctors scrambled to find doses of an influenza vaccine, Washington County Hospital officials last month were figuring out how its supply could be used to help those most in need.

Washington County Hospital received all 2,100 doses of the flu vaccine it ordered this year, according to a hospital news release. The release stated that the vaccine was ordered through the pharmaceutical company Aventis Pasteur rather than Chiron Corp.

Gary Aziz, director of pharmacy services at Washington County Hospital, said the decision was made to order from Aventis because of a good, long-term business relationship with the company.

"It really never entered our minds that the other company would not distribute any at all," he said.

Aziz said that to be on the safe side next year, the hospital probably will order doses from multiple suppliers.

"What happened to Chiron could happen to anyone next year. You just don't know," he said.

Aziz said that as a result of community need for doses of the vaccine, Washington County Health System allowed only "high-risk" employees and those with direct contact with patients to get vaccinations.

Aziz said the hospital agreed to distribute some of its vaccine to other sources. It gave 10 percent of the 1,400 doses it had remaining to a pool that served 18 hospitals that did not receive doses. Aziz said most of those 140 doses were sent to the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Md.

The Western Maryland Hospital Center on Pennsylvania Avenue and the Washington County Health Department also received doses from the hospital's supply, Aziz said.

Aziz said that on Tuesday the hospital had about 300 doses of the vaccine left, and that a meeting will be held next Monday to decide how to best use the remaining supply.

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