Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023 |
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Delays may cause a form of rationing
BY LESTER CHANG
TGI Staff Writer
The delivery of flu vaccine to medical
institutions may be delayed, but Kaua’ians who have a chronic disease like
diabetes should make every attempt to get their yearly flu shot, warn national
and state health officials.
Failure to be vaccinated could put them at risk
for life-threatening influenza and pneumonia infections, according to the
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and the Hawai’i State Diabetes
“Despite reports of the vaccine delay, we are recommending
that people at high risk request vaccinations from their physicians as early as
possible in the flu season (from September to March),” said Dr. Frank Vinicor,
director of the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation.
The vaccine has
been harder to come by this year because manufacturers have had more difficulty
growing its components for use, according to state health officials.
among people with diabetes increase by up to 15 percent during flu epidemics,
and people with diabetes are three times more likely to die as a result of
complications from the flu and pneumonia, the CDC says.
Only half of the
people with diabetes take yearly flu shots and two out of the three have never
been immunized against pneumococcal disease, the most frequent cause of
pneumonia, the CDC said.
Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in
the United States. Of the 16 million Americans with the disease, a third don’t
know they have it, according to officials.
People who are obese, exercise
little and have high cholesterol or a family history of high cholesterol are
more likely to get the disease, state health officials said.
Islanders, Asian and African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans are at a
higher risk for diabetes.
Despite an anticipated delay, “we do expect
there to be sufficient quantity of the vaccine” in Hawai’i), said Janice
Okubo, spokeswoman for the state health agency.
“If you are not a
high-risk candidate, you could wait,” she said. “That would certainly help
those who are at higher risk.”
Kaua’ians can call their doctors to find out
whether the vaccine is available and when they can schedule an appointment for
the shot, officials said.
On Kaua’i, the flu shots can be administered by
Kaua’i Medical Clinic and physicians.
The vaccine has been administered on
O’ahu at Kaiser Permanente facilities, Straub Clinic and the Honolulu Medical
Personnel from Castle Community Care, which is associated with
Castle Medical Clinic, are scheduled to administer both flu and pneumococcal
shots at public clinics on O’ahu this week.
Dr. Paul Effler, the state
epidemiologist, said it is safe to give people with diabetes both the
pneumococcal shot, which is designed to protect people from pneumonia virus,
and the flu shot.
The pneumococcal shot is recommended for senior citizens
and people with chronic disease conditions, but isn’t generally recommended for
health adults and children, officials said.
But even if vaccinated, a
person will be protected only from viruses for which the vaccine was created,
and will be susceptible to other types of influenza virus, officials
General flu symptoms include body aches, fever and headaches. Those
with the flu should get a lot of rest and drink plenty of liquids, officials
Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225)
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