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New York City Fire Department
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Vol. 2 • No. 11 • October 2004

What's new for October 2004

Flu Vaccine Shortage

At the present time, the FDNY flu vaccine program has been suspended due to the influenza vaccine shortage. Every year, FDNY BHS orders vaccine for our members and provides the vaccine to our members. However this year, our nation has experienced an extraordinary shortage of vaccine. Half of the country's supply of flu vaccine comes from the Chiron Corporation. This manufacturer was shut down because of production problems. This means that only half the usual supply is available. Currently the supply we have ordered is not forthcoming. Under the current CDC guidelines, several groups have been identified as the highest priority to receive the vaccine: 1) Children between the ages of 6 to 23 months, 2) people over the age of 65, 3) residents in nursing homes and long term care facilities, 4) people between the ages of 2 through 64 with underlying medical problems such as cardiac, pulmonary, diabetes mellitus, renal and immuno-supression, 5) children between the ages of 6 and 18 on chronic aspirin therapy, 6) pregnant women, 7) caretakers of children under 6 months and 8) health care workers providing direct care to patients with chronic health problems.

At the present time, 30 million doses have been released. It is expected that the CDC will direct the remaining 25 million doses to centers that can provide immunizations to individuals meeting the above criteria. It is unclear if FDNY will receive any flu vaccine this year. At the present time, we would advise our members to review the above guidelines. As with any health issue, information and advice may change on a daily basis.

For the majority of healthy people, the flu is an uncomfortable and annoying inconvenience. For the elderly, the young and those with underlying medical problems, it can be life threatening. Continue to stay well and protect yourself by following a common sense approach to good health. Wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, keep washing your hands, eat your veggies and fresh fruit. Stay well.


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Bio Pod 2004 Revised Program

Our scheduled bio preparedness exercise was designed to offer the flu vaccine while testing our ability to distribute prophylactic medications to our on duty work force.

At eight prearranged BIOPOD sites, BHS assisted by EMS personnel were prepared to offer medications (candy) while our BHS nurses were scheduled to offer the flu vaccine to our members. This exercise has been revamped due to the absence of flu vaccine. We will not be able to offer the flu vaccine to our members. Under current guidelines only those over 65 years old and those youngsters from ages 6 months to 23 months will be offered the flu shot at the current time.

The revised bio preparedness program will consist of two activities Stationary BIOPOD : At 9 Metro
Tech, mock distribution of prophylactic medication (candy) to all employees, civilian and unformed will be done at a stationary BIO POD site. In the auditorium, employees will be signed in, educational sessions will be attended, participants will answer a set of questions related to allergy history, and medication will be offered. Since this is a drill not a real event, the medication will be candy supplied by the UFA. But the exercise will help us evaluate the rate of distribution, the flow through the site and help us test our computer and technological support. This exercise will be held in the end of October - early November.

Mobile BIOPOD will evaluate our ability to mass distribute prophylactic medications to our on line on duty members during a tour. Nine mobile units, one for each Division, will fan across the city, to each firehouse in November. On that given date, each mobile unit, with BHS staff and computer support will visit each firehouse. At each session, members will be signed in, education given, questions about allergies will be asked and medication will be offered. This candy is supplied by the UFA. On duty EMS members will be directed to the nearest firehouse for participation in this event. This exercise will again allow us to evaluate rate of distribution, flow of the Pod, and test our computer and technological support. The interaction of dispatch, communications and operations with this BHS program will be a critical part of the success of this drill.

Preparing for the unexpected requires practice and team effort. This drill is part of our preparedness for the possibility of biological threat. Our original plan has undergone significant change due to the unforeseen shortage of the flu vaccine. The revised exercise will help us prepare for a rapid and massive distribution of medication in the event of a biological exposure. Remaining flexible and adjusting to new needs and new challenges are essential skills in facing the unknowns of the future. Working together to remain prepared is the mission of the FDNY. We look forward to seeing you at the drill.


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Support Group For
Separated and
Divorcing Men

A 10 session Program
for FDNY employees

October 28-December 23, 2004
251 Lafayette Street, 3rd Floor

This group is open to all active and
retired FDNY employees currently in
the process of separating or divorcing.
The focus of the group is on how
to rebuild your life after a relationship
ends. The group will learn specific
"building blocks" each week in order
to help the individual cope and
accept the realities of a

Please contact Tim Dunnigan at
(212) 570 - 1693x304 if you are
interested in joining the support group
for separated and divorcing men.


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Immunization Update

Yes, we have no flu vaccine this year. But other necessary protective vaccinations are available at BHS. These immunizations are offered to keep members protected against a variety of diseases. Each member has a computerized immunization folder. This is updated with each vaccination.

TETANUS immunization is given every 10 years to protect against infections associated with dirty cuts and wounds. If a member has a deep cut and it has been over 5 years since the last tetanus shot, then get another one. Also if a member receives a tetanus shot in an ER setting, then tell our nursing staff, so your immunization record can be updated.

HEPATITIS B immunization protects against the virus, hepatitis B. This protection is offered in a series of three shots. The first two shots in the series are offered during probationary classes. The third immunization is offered at the Fifth grade medical or at the first annual. Many members may have received their initial immunizations in high school or college, since this protection is now widely offered and recommended for all.

This immunization remains the best protection against Hepatitis B, a viral infection spread by blood-to-blood contact and through other body fluids. It can lead to liver damage. The Hepatitis B vaccine is a synthetic vaccine with a proven record of safety. Currently members are tested to see if the vaccine has taken. If not, further shots are given, for a total of 6 immunizations.

HEPATITIS A immunization is offered to the SOC units who are possibly exposed with water rescues. In general, this virus causes a self-limited infection. It is spread through fecal oral route and it associated with eating contaminated foods due to improper food handling. In certain foreign countries, this infection can be wide spread.

MMR, (MEASLES, MUMPS AND RUBELLA) vaccination is offered to all members whose blood levels show absence of protective antibodies. Although members may have had these shots earlier in life, the protective antibodies may have dropped down below the level of protection. The immunization booster is offered to members whose levels show a drop.

There are still infections for which no immunization is available. HEPATITIS C remains one such infection. The best way to protect against this infection and most other infections is to utilize your personal protective equipment on each and every encounter. Risky behaviors on and off duty should be avoided. A moment of protection can provide a lifetime of better health. A moment of indiscretion can result in serious health consequences. Protect yourself every time.


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Dr. Kerry Kelly
Chief Medical Officer

Dr. David Prezant
Deputy Chief Medical Officer

Malachy Corrigan
Director, FDNY CSU

Mary T. McLaughlin
Director, FDNY BHS

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