FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 26, 2004
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG AND HEALTH COMMISSIONER THOMAS FRIEDEN CALL UPON EMPLOYERS AND HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS TO DONATE FLU VACCINE TO HIGH-RISK NEW YORKERS
City also asks Federal Government for 600,000 Additional Doses of Vaccine to Cover High-Risk New Yorkers
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden today asked area employers and health care providers to donate vaccine supplies to those at highest risk this season as part of the City's ongoing effort to respond to the national flu vaccine shortage. DOHMH is urging that only those at high-risk of flu complications be given a flu shot, and have asked healthy New Yorkers ages 2-64 to abstain from being vaccinated this season. The Health Department has requested 600,000 additional doses for New York City medical providers to vaccinate high-risk New Yorkers from the Center for Disease Control. The Mayor and Health Commissioner were joined by Department for the Aging (DFTA) Commissioner Edwin Méndez-Santiago and Spencer Foreman, MD, President of Montefiore Medical Center whose hospital is donating vaccine to the DOHMH for redistribution to high-risk populations.
"It's still early in the flu season, and our clinics and senior centers are doing an admirable job of getting our most vulnerable citizens vaccinated," said Mayor Bloomberg. "However, 90% of City residents rely on their private doctor to provide their flu shots and we need to get vaccines to them. Since there is not enough vaccine for all who want it, we need to work to together to protect our most vulnerable. We ask those businesses and health care providers who ordered vaccine for their employees who are at risk to donate vaccine to the City so that we can make sure that those at risk get vaccinated."
"In addition to our request to area employers, we have asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for additional vaccine to protect those at highest risk of complications from the flu this season," said Commissioner Frieden. "There is a need for about 600,000 additional doses for people at highest risk. We have asked the federal government for this amount; given the remaining stock in the country, we are hopeful that CDC will be able to provide it. Most people will get through the flu season without serious illness, but simple precautions - like staying home if you have fever and cough, and covering your cough and sneeze - will greatly reduce the risk of getting others sick."
The Department of Health has undertaken several initiatives to respond to the shortage
"Older New Yorkers are among the most likely to get sick with the flu, and 90% of deaths from flu complications occur among people over the age of 65," said Commissioner Méndez-Santiago. "Working with the Health Department, we are doing our best to get vaccine to our seniors to protect them from the flu this season. New Yorkers over 65 should also talk to their doctor about getting a pneumonia shot if they haven't had one recently."
"The national influenza immunization crisis requires extraordinary action," said Spencer Foreman, MD, President of Montefiore Medical Center. "In response to an urgent request by the City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Montefiore agreed to provide vaccine from its own reduced allotment to help alleviate the critical situation for those who received little or no supply."
Edward Skyler / Jordan Barowitz (212) 788-2958
Sandra Mullin (Health and Mental Hygiene)
Andrea Cimino (Department for the Aging)
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