Wednesday, October 7, 2009

First H1N1 vaccine arrives in Idaho

Shots for general public still to come


By JODY ZARKOS
Express Staff Writer

The first shipment of H1N1 influenza vaccine arrived in Idaho on Monday, but before the general public can receive inoculation, initial batches, which consist of a nasal spray, will be used for high-risk health care workers and public safety personnel.

According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's Web site, the FluMist spray cannot be used for everyone identified in the target groups. Vaccine shots, which can be used more broadly, are expected to be available for ordering by the Division of Public Health within a few weeks.

As of Oct. 1, almost 1.4 million doses of the nasal-spray live vaccine had been ordered throughout the country, including Idaho with 9,200 doses.

"There is going to be a very limited supply of H1N1 vaccine available during the first weeks of shipments, so initially vaccination will not be widely available to everyone recommended to receive it," said Dr. Christine Hahn, Idaho state epidemiologist. "Eventually, we hope there will be enough for everyone who wants to be vaccinated,"

The Department of Health and Welfare reported that the initial order of vaccine for Idaho will be shipped to hospitals, community health centers and all seven public health districts. The districts are working with the Division of Public Health on arrangements for future distribution. The vaccine will eventually be available through many private health-care providers.

Public health officials are targeting H1N1 vaccine to people recommended by CDC advisers to receive the vaccine, including those at higher risk of health complications from H1N1 infection, and those more likely to transmit infection to the most vulnerable. They include:

· Pregnant women.

· Household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months.

· Health care and emergency medical services personnel.

· All people from 6 months through 24 years of age.

· People age 25 to 64 who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza.

There is no charge for the 2009 H1N1 vaccine. However, private health care providers may charge an administration fee. Local public health districts will provide free vaccination at public health clinics this fall for people who cannot afford to pay the fee.

People interested in receiving the vaccine can check availability by calling the South Central Public Health District at 737-5900 or by visiting its Web site, www.phd5.idaho.gov/.




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