Health Department redoing 800 flu shots

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Some 800 recipients of this fall’s flu shots at the Dallas County &045; those who received their shots between Oct. 1 and 14 &045;

are eligible to receive a second shot, according to Ashvin Parikh who directs the Dallas County Health Department.

According to Parikh, the problem when the refrigeration equipment in use at the department

experienced a drop in temperature, due to a malfunction, and the temperature problem went undetected for two weeks.

As soon as the problem was discovered a letter was sent out to all persons who had received shots during that period, offering a second shot on Nov. 6 and 7. Like the first one, the second shot is free. Additional second shots have been given to those requesting them, he said, and are still available, as long as the supply lasts.

Parikh expressed regret for the problem. He said that to his knowledge it had only happened here once before a number of years ago.

The Dallas County Health Department receives its supply from the Alabama Department of Immunization in Montgomery. Parikh said that as soon as the problem surfaced he contacted the Montgomery office and requested their advice on how to proceed. The state department, in turn, called the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, which recommended the second shot.

The manufacturer said that given the temperature change, it could not guarantee the effectiveness of the shots.

Parikh emphasized that the first shot may have effectively immunized the 800 persons receiving it, but that the department simply could not ensure it and, in any event, the second shot would do no harm.

In addition to the flu shots, the Dallas County Health Department also gives free pneumonia shots to those needing them, according to Parikh.

Parikh estimates that a few more people received shots this year than last. The number given this year he estimated to be more than a thousand &045; excluding the second shots &045;

but at the time of the interview precise information was not available.

Asked about the impact of state budget cuts on his agency, Parikh noted that two programs were being eliminated &045; free blood pressure medication and free cancer detection screening for persons under 40 &045; and that several staff positions will be lost effective Dec. 5.

Parikh, who has been with the state health department since 1991, has only been in Dallas County for the past several years. He is assistant administrator for Area 7 of the state health department, which covers eight counties. Parikh is responsible for the agencies in six of the counties, including Dallas.