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Flu Vaccines Redistributed to High-Risk

Virginia Department of Health releases 77,000 vaccines.

The Virginia Department of Health announced late last week that it planned to distribute approximately 77,0000 doses of the flu vaccine to local area clinics.

As a part of its redistribution plan, the department of health is trying to reach the high-risk population based on the need of local area health departments.

"This is a part of the redistribution plan from Aventis," said Lucy Caldwell, spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Health. "We received much of those doses on Friday, and now we'll be them sending out to local area health departments."

Caldwell explained that each of the 35 local health districts have a plan as to how they will distribute the vaccines they will receive at the end of this week.

"The local health departments have targeted specifically their high-risk patients," she said, adding many of those who will receive the new vaccines are in-home care elderly that cannot stand in line at a clinic to get the shot.

"Health officials are encouraging residents to keep in touch with their health care providers," said Caldwell, adding that many providers won't know until the end of the week whether or not they will receive the vaccine.

The department of health is also reminding residents who are not high risk that they may not be able to get a vaccine this year and need to take preventative measures against catching the flu.

Flu prevention steps include:

* Use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and then dispose of the tissue immediately and wash hands thoroughly.

* Frequently wash hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds.

* Rinse and dry hands with a disposable towel, use that towel to turn off the faucet.

* Stay home from work or school for five to seven days if you have flu like symptoms.

* Refrain from visiting a nursing home if you have flu like symptoms.

* Hospitals and clinicians should report any clusters of respiratory illness to the local health department.

Caldwell said although "sporadic reports of flu like illness" have occurred throughout the region, currently a high number people are not of sick.

But, she added, flu season runs from now until March, so people need to make sure they use the preventative measures.

She also encouraged people to continue to call their health care providers within the next few weeks to see if they received more vaccines and to learn how they will distribute the extra doses.