Originally created 12/30/04

Restrictions on flu vaccine eased in South Carolina



COLUMBIA, S.C. - Anyone older than 50, those that have contact with people in high-risk groups and out-of-home caregivers can get a flu shot after state health department officials eased restrictions Wednesday.

Following the Centers for Disease Control's recommendation, the agency eased restrictions nearly more than two months after a shortage of flu vaccine spread alarm across the country.

Vaccine supplies remain limited and not everyone in the priority groups, the elderly, infants or those with chronic conditions, has been vaccinated, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control said.

Dr. Jerry Gibson of DHEC said the new groups will become eligible as of Jan. 3, 2005. Gibson said it might not be possible to immunize some people in the new groups because vaccine supplies are still limited in some areas.

The flu season in South Carolina has been mild so far.

DHEC does not track the number of individual cases, but it appears unlikely the state will have a repeat of last year's early and active flu season, Dan Drociuk, an epidemiologist with DHEC, said earlier this month.