Scott County offering vaccines for high risk children, while state records first flu case

Scott County will be offering influenza vaccines to high risk children, the county's public health office announced this week. Meanwhile, Minnesota has recorded its first case of the flu.

Scott County Public Health has received a portion of flu vaccine from the state-funded Minnesota Vaccines for Children (MnVFC) program. This vaccine will be available to high-risk children who are eligible for the state-funded vaccine at regular Scott County immunization clinics. Due to the shortage, Scott County does not have any vaccine available for high-risk adults.

In order for a child to have access to the state-funded vaccine, they must be uninsured or underinsured (has health insurance that does not fully cover vaccines), on Medical Assistance or Minnesota Care or be an American Indian or Alaskan Native.

In addition, they must fall into one of the following high-risk categories:

— Age six months to 23 months.

— Child living with infant less than six months of age (infants less than six months cannot be vaccinated).

— Six months through 18 years of age with any of the following conditions: heart disease, metabolic disease including diabetes, kidney disease, lung disease including asthma, abnormal blood disease or immunosuppression.

— Six months through 18 years of age receiving long-term aspirin therapy.

— Six months through 18 years of age who are residents of a nursing home or other chronic care facility.

— Adolescent girls up to the age of 18 who will be pregnant during the influenza season.

Those not eligible for the MnVFC vaccine include anyone who is not MnVFC eligible including children whose insurance covers vaccines, or any person over the age of 18; MnVFC eligible children ages 2-18 who are a household contact of persons in groups at high risk except for infants less than six months of age.

The vaccine will be available at the following Scott County immunization clinics: today (Thursday), from 3-5 p.m. at Hope Lutheran Church in Jordan; Thursday, Nov. 4, from 3-5 p.m. at the Savage Library in Savage; Monday, Nov. 8, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the Workforce Center in Shakopee, and Thursday, Nov. 18, from 3-5 p.m. at Hope Lutheran Church in Jordan.

The county encourages adults who are over the age of 65 or who have chronic health problems to consider getting a pneumococcal shot if they have not had one in the past. This vaccine, commonly called the pneumonia shot, can protect against pneumococcal disease which can lead to serious infections of the lungs (pneumonia), the blood (bacteremia) and the covering of the brain (meningitis). This vaccine is generally given only once, usually after age 65. If the first dose was given before age 65 one booster dose is given after five years have elapsed.

Medicare part B covers the pneumococcal vaccine. It is available at the clinics listed above.

Queen of Peace

Queen of Peace Hospital in New Prague will not be doing any flu vaccinations this year, due to the shortage of vaccine. Paula Harnage of the hospital’s infection control office said they are recommending that people contact their clinics every week to check on the vaccine's availability.

First case reported

The first laboratory-confirmed case of influenza for the 2004-2005 season was confirmed in a 44-year-old Minneapolis woman. Her illness was caused by the A Fujian strain of the influenza virus – one of the three strains covered in this year’s flu vaccine.

Officials at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) said that while the flu usually doesn’t appear this early in the state, that doesn’t necessarily mean this will be a bad year for the flu.

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