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HEALTH OFFICIALS EXPECT 600 ADDITIONAL DOSES OF FLU VACCINE

Niagara County will be able to muster a few small flu vaccination clinics after all.

Public Health Director Paulette M. Kline told the Board of Health last week the county has received 600 doses of influenza vaccine from the state, a fraction of what it ordered but more than it thought it would receive.

With 300 doses the county already had in storage, the county will be able to hold some of its annual clinics in senior citizens centers and similar locations. Dates are to be announced.

"Six hundred vaccines will go very quickly," said Dr. Vivien Carrion, the board president. "But at least 600 more people are going to be immunized."

To stretch the available vaccine, Kline issued an order banning flu vaccinations for anyone who doesn't meet the high-risk profiles established by the federal Centers for Disease Control.

They include infants 6 to 23 months old, senior citizens older than 65 and other adults with chronic medical conditions. Pregnant women, nursing home residents and health care workers involved in direct patient care also are allowed to get shots.

Kline said she hopes the county will receive a larger supply of flu vaccine in January. In the meantime, the county is suggesting those in the high-risk flu groups who can't obtain an immunization should obtain a vaccination against bacterial pneumonia, a frequent complication of flu.

The pneumococcal vaccine is not part of the shortage caused by the shutdown of a British flu vaccine factory because of contamination.

The Health Department, which had to cancel a plan for flu vaccinations Tuesday for senior citizens at polling places, is setting up pneumococcal vaccinations at four voting sites instead.

Those shots will be available to those 65 and over who vote at four Niagara Falls locations. They are the Niagara Falls Boys Club at 725 17th St., the firehouse at Royal Avenue and Hyde Park Boulevard, the Veterans of Foreign Wars post at 2435 Seneca Ave. and St. John African Methodist Episcopal Church at 917 Garden Ave.

County nurses also will be on hand for blood pressure screenings and to offer information on other health issues ranging from mammograms to colon cancer.

The county had applied for an $8,000 grant for Election Day flu vaccinations from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and already had received $6,000 when the flu vaccine shortage hit.

Wanda Smiley, county director of patient services, said she believes the county will receive the other $2,000 because it was able to set up another community health activity for Election Day.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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