October 29, 2004

VUMC implements targeted plan to tackle flu vaccine shortage

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Jerry Malone Jr., a journeyman plumber with Plant Services, tests the water hoses outside the new decontamination showers.
photo by Dana Johnson

VUMC implements targeted plan to tackle flu vaccine shortage

VUMC continues to await delivery of available stockpiles of influenza vaccine. Per direction from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccine-maker Aventis-Pasteur Pharmaceuticals is attempting to fill partial orders of flu vaccine for hospitals and health care providers who were to receive their vaccine from Chiron. Additionally, VUMC expects to receive a supply of FluMist, the nasal spray flu vaccine.

FluMist is a live virus vaccine which may be used by most health care workers, but cannot be used by those with personal medical conditions placing them at increased risk, or by people age 50 and older. In addition, FluMist cannot be used in reverse isolation units (such as bone marrow transplant units). Guidelines for the use of FluMist will be forthcoming.

When vaccine does become available, VUMC's highest risk patients will be vaccinated according to CDC guidelines through a Targeted Vaccine Plan. Only faculty and staff designated highest risk will be vaccinated initially. As more vaccine becomes available, additional faculty and staff will be vaccinated. This tiered vaccination process — designed and administered by the Occupational Health Clinic, the departments of Infectious Diseases and Preventive Medicine, and the department of Emergency Preparedness — will continue until all flu vaccine is used.

The Medical Center will employ its Syndromic Surveillance System, which generates reports on a daily basis, to effectively monitor the onset and impact of influenza cases.

As flu season approaches, all faculty and staff are urged to maintain impeccable hand hygiene and other infection control techniques.

Individuals with high-risk health conditions who are not health care workers should take advantage of vaccine clinics through their local health department until their personal physician's office can obtain vaccine.