Officials urge those at-risk for flu to schedule vaccinations

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:54

    TRENTON-People at risk for the flu should begin getting vaccinations at the end of this month, state officials said last week, a year after dwindling supplies led to massive lines and prompted some communities to hold lotteries for the vaccines. State public health officials said they cannot predict how severe New Jersey's flu season will be this year, but said the state should be in good shape because of ample supply of vaccine. High-risk individuals, such as the elderly and young children, should begin getting their vaccines from the end of this month up to Oct. 24, when the medication will be made available to the general public, said officials as they kicked off their annual flu campaign. Federal officials last year announced a severe shortage of vaccines because a British plant that was expected to supply the United States with 46 million to 48 million doses was shut down due to contamination. ``Last year we had quite a severe influenza vaccine shortage,'' said Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, state epidemiologist and deputy commissioner of health. ``Many people around the country were vaccinated, certainly not to the levels that they had been vaccinated in previous years.'' New Jersey fared far better than other states last year, with 62 percent of children aged 6 months to 23 months receiving vaccinations, compared to 48 percent nationwide. The state Department of Health and Human Services is recommending that health care providers focus on ill people aged 65 and older, children aged 6 months to 23 months, pregnant women, and those having frequent contact with infants younger than six months old. Home health care workers also need to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their families and their patients.