Government shutdown impacts tracking of flu cases - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Government shutdown impacts tracking of flu cases

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - By now, most people know that the government shutdown means all national parks and monuments are closed for business, but it could also effect your health. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is operating with a skeleton crew.  The agency sent home more than half of its employees and are suspending programs, including the annual seasonal flu surveillance just as flu season gets underway.

"Well, I guess if it had to happen at some time it would be better happening now than in December or January because that is really when we do have our peak flu season," said Mahoning County Board of Health's nursing director Diane Colaianni.

Every fall, the CDC monitors the spread of flu and figures out how best to direct vaccine programs. Because of the shutdown, all of that has ended.  Although, Mahoning County District Board of Health's nursing director, Diane Colaianni, says she doesn't anticipate too many hiccups because the Ohio Department of Health has a good system in place for monitoring the flu.

"We are very fortunate to have a good infrastructure with the Ohio Department of Health.  So, the CDC being shutdown, right now, isn't impacting us greatly," said Colaianni.

Colainni says there are enough resources in place, here in the Valley, if an outbreak were to occur and the vaccine itself hasn't been impacted.

"We've been able to receive our vaccine from the Ohio Department of Health.  They deal with private providers.  So, the vaccine is all here and the clinics are being held.  So, right now we are ok.  Let's just hope it doesn't go on too long," said Colaianni.

The Mahoning County Board of Health participates in weekly meetings with other health agencies. Colaianni anticipates those meetings will become even more important when it comes to sharing information related to flu trend if the shutdown continues.

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