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News Release

 
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
   October 10, 2001

George T. DiFerdinando, Jr., MD, MPH
Acting Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Dennis McGowan or Marilyn Riley
609-984-7160




Flu Clinics Posted on Web
Seniors, Others at High Risk Urged to "Get the Flu Shot & the Pneu Shot"

TRENTON -The Department of Health and Senior Services, in conjunction with local health departments throughout the state, has posted a listing of flu immunization clinic dates, times and locations on its website at www.state.nj.us/health/flu.

Seniors, persons with diabetes and other high-risk state residents interested in getting an annual flu shot or a once-a-lifetime pneumococcal vaccination can visit the site from their home computer or a computer available to the public in most libraries. The website database is updated on a regular basis and is searchable by county and by town.

"Flu and pneumonia are relentless killers of older adults, persons with diabetes and other chronic conditions, together claiming the lives of nearly 2,000 New Jersey residents each year," said acting Health and Senior Services Commissioner George T. DiFerdinando, Jr., M.D. "This website will help ensure that more state residents know where to get these highly effective vaccinations."

Dr. DiFerdinando said that in addition to listing the time and location of clinics, the site also details the various requirements and restrictions imposed by clinic sponsor agencies. Some, for instance, are limited to senior citizens and adults with disabilities, while others will vaccinate younger adults. The site also identifies which clinics offer the pneumococcal vaccine.

One thing visitors to the website will notice is that clinics are scheduled later in the season than in past years. Flu vaccines are traditionally given in early to mid-autumn, but manufacturing problems last season resulted in many adult immunization clinics being cancelled and private medical practices having difficulty obtaining vaccine for their patients.

To ensure that last year's problems do not resurface, the department, the Medical Society of New Jersey and the Peer Review Organization of New Jersey, Inc. (PRONJ), in concurrence with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that adult immunization clinics not be scheduled before late-October or early-November and that they run at least through the end of December. Most local health departments, visiting nurse organizations and other clinic sponsors have followed that recommendation.

Influenza is a serious illness that causes symptoms that include fever, aches and pains, sore throat, runny nose, and chills. When people over 65 or those with chronic health problems, such as diabetes, get the flu, they are more likely to develop complications which can lead to hospitalization and a loss of independence. Flu and pneumonia account for more 2,000 deaths of New Jersey residents each year.

In addition to the flu vaccine, which must be reformulated each year in anticipation of the strains that may be prevalent that year, a longer-lasting vaccine offering protection against pneumococcal diseases is also recommended for seniors and other high-risk groups. The pneu shot is generally given only once after age 65 and contains 85-90% of the pneumococcal serotypes that cause diseases such as bacteremia, meningitis and pneumonia.

Seniors are encouraged to seek these important vaccinations from their doctor as part of a well-person visit, or at one of the scheduled adult immunization clinics in their area.

The flu and pneumococcal vaccines are both covered by Medicare and Medicaid, which reimburse health care providers directly for immunizing eligible seniors. To ensure that seniors participating in Medicare Plus Choice wishing to can receive their flu and pneu shots at local immunization clinics, the department facilitated an expansion of cost reimbursement agreements between the program's managed care organizations and local health departments. In addition, New Jersey requires long-term care facilities and hospitals to assess for and offer influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations to senior citizen residents and patients, respectively.

People without web access can get information on local clinics by contacting their county office on aging, local health department, by calling NJ EASE toll-free at 1-877-222-3737, or by calling PRONJ's Health Hotline toll-free at 1-866-269-4325.



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Department of Health and Senior Services
P. O. Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

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