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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), long a strong proponent of flu vaccinations for both the general public and healthcare workers, today praised Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Julie Gerberding for her candor in discussing the potential delay in the availability of the 2004 flu vaccine.
We commend Dr. Gerberding for sharing with the public her concern about a potential delay in vaccine availability. The nation very well could experience a lag in getting vaccines to market, and its important for consumers to be made aware of what is going on before that becomes a reality. We also agree with Dr. Gerberding, however, that this information, which is preliminary at best, should not sway individuals from seeking a flu vaccination this fall, said APIC President Jeanne Pfeiffer, RN, MPH, CIC.
As Dr. Gerberding pointed out, there have been vaccine delays in the past and the public health community took measures to deal with those delays ensuring that the most vulnerable individuals (the very young and the aged, as well as individuals with compromised immune systems) received the vaccines first; there also have been instances of inadvertent vaccine batch contamination in the past -- this is not an uncommon occurrence in vaccine and pharmaceutical manufacturing.
This is why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) exists, to ensure that good manufacturing practices are adhered to and that consumers receive only the safest products. Both the FDA and the vaccine manufacturer are on top of this issue, and we can be assured that any final product will be safe. If there is a significant delay, APIC encourages the public to make alternative arrangements to receive the flu shot at the earliest date of vaccine availability.
Immunization is the best method we have of protecting our citizens from the potentially
devastating effects of influenza. The worst thing that could happen is that consumers
wrongly assume that the vaccine just isnt available, and forgo getting a flu shot
altogether this year, continued Pfeiffer.
Gerberding also stressed that it is still especially vital that healthcare workers be
immunized against the flu -- to protect not only themselves, but their families and the
patients under their care. APIC has undertaken a separate public campaign targeting the
importance of influenza immunization for health care workers, and infection control
professionals nation-wide continue to recommend this practice. For more information on
this campaign, as well as general information about influenza prevention, visit
Influenza strikes between 10-20 percent of Americans annually. Though its symptoms are
often confused with the common cold, influenza is a far more dangerous disease,
infecting at least 120 million people worldwide and killing some 36,000 Americans each
year, including seniors, children, and individuals with weakened immune systems.
The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)
is a nonprofit professional association comprised of more than 10,000
members whose responsibility is the prevention and control of infections and related
adverse outcomes in patients and healthcare workers. APIC promotes wellness and
prevents illness and infection worldwide by advancing health care epidemiology through
education, research, collaboration, practice and credentialing. APIC's vision is to improve
the health of people worldwide by serving as the preeminent voice for excellence in the
prevention and control of infections and related disease outcomes.