Government shutdown continues to affect several organizations - KCTV5

Shutdown affects local health departments

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The shutdown continues to affect several organizations including local health departments.

The CDC works closely with every local health department and because of the shutdown, they're currently operating with about a third of their normal staff.

As flu season begins here in October, local experts say it's business as usual.

"There's enough flu vaccine here for everyone and their sisters and brothers," said Mike Samet with the Hamilton County Health Commission.

But it's trends at the national level that they don't have access to right now.

"We can track our own local numbers and the state can track its numbers," explains Gresham-Wherle. "If you go to the CDC's web page for national flu activity you get a message that says this page is not being maintained because of the shutdown."

Experts say this data is crucial when flu season picks up, especially in the event of a state-to-state outbreak.

"Sometimes as we saw last year the flu vaccine can be effective in most cases. There are few strains in the virus that may not be protected against and that's where the CDC and the World Health Organizations come in. They help us bridge those information gaps," said Samet.

"If we get to the point where we need additional help, we're not really sure what the federal government would be able to do for us," explains Gresham-Wherle.

Emily Gresham-Wherle with the Northern Kentucky Health Department says as the shutdown continues, something that could be in jeopardy is their WIC program, a nutrition supplement service for pregnant women and children.

"They won't possibly be able to buy milk for their kids, or cheese for their kids, or bread, or fruits and vegetables. That's one of your basic services that could be affected if this goes on," said Gresham-Wherle.

Gresham-Wherle says more than eight thousand people are signed up and could be affected if this shutdown continues into next month.

Local health officials say even without as much support from the CDC, they have plenty of help at the state level.

Experts say one of their main areas of focus now is making sure everyone gets their flu shots.

For more information on how to get flu shots in Hamilton County visit http://www.hamiltoncountyhealth.org/en/ or in northern Kentucky visit http://www.nkyhealth.org/.

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