Hy-Vee to Follow CDC Recommendations for Flu Vaccinations

DES MOINES, Iowa – Facing the same flu vaccine shortage as pharmacy operators across the nation, Hy-Vee is asking its pharmacists to follow the recommendations of the CDC and the Iowa Department of Public Health for targeting high-risk patients for vaccination.

"Unfortunately, the bulk of our vaccine was to be Chiron product," Helen E. Eddy, R.Ph. a.v.p., pharmacy education, and training told Progressive Grocer. At this time, we anticipate not having much vaccine to distribute."

Since news of British health authorities blocked flu vaccine shipments by the company that produces half the vaccine used in the United States, the Iowa Department of Public Health has been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to assess the impact this will have on Iowans. As a result the CDC has released revised recommendations for this season to target those persons at highest risk from complications of influenza.

These high-risk populations include:

Priority groups for vaccination with inactivated influenza vaccine this season are:
- all children aged 6–23 months,
- adults older than 65 years,
- persons between 2–64 years with underlying chronic medical conditions,
- all women who will be pregnant during influenza season,
- residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities,
- children 6 months-18 years of age on chronic aspirin therapy,
- health-care workers with direct patient care, and
- out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children less than 6 months.

Who Should Not Get Flu Vaccine
People in the following groups should not get flu vaccine before talking with their doctor:
- People who have a severe allergy (i.e. anaphylactic allergic reaction) to hens' eggs
- It is prudent to avoid vaccination in people who previously developed Guillain Barré syndrome (GBS) the 6 weeks after getting a flu shot

Hy-Vee pharmacies are using questionnaires to assist in the screening process. "According to our protocol, all children under 18 require a prescription from a physician to receive a flu shot from our pharmacy, as do pregnant women past their first trimester," said Eddy. "In these situations, the physician has identified these patients as high risk and needing vaccination."

Fortunately, Hy-Vee pharmacists have given flu shots since 1996, and have had experience screening for patients that are at highest risk for the flu. "Between the two processes, we feel very comfortable that our pharmacists are identifying the at risk patients accurately," said Eddy. "A number of our pharmacies will carry the FluMist product, however, for healthy individuals aged 5-49 years of age."

-- Joseph Tarnowski
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