H1N1 vaccine shipment has begun

Shipment of the novel influenza A H1N1 vaccine has begun, and some doses will arrive in Georgia and South Carolina next week.

 

Anne Schuchat, the director of the National Center for Im­munization and Respiratory Di­seas­es at the Centers for Disease Con­trol and Prevention, said 25 states and large cities placed orders for 600,000 doses , and it should arrive by Tuesday.

Georgia ’s 54,800 doses will be sent to the regional health district offices “for administration to young children, in school and childcare facility settings in some districts,” spokeswoman Ravae Graham said by e-mail. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is expecting 25,000 doses next week.

States are working on “practical targeted plans for the best use of the doses that we have,” Dr. Schuchat said. Georgia has been enrolling providers to deliver H1N1 vaccine, and those who order more than 100 doses will get them directly from the distributor, McKesson Co., while smaller providers will get theirs through the health department, Ms. Graham said. The vaccine is free, and administration is free in a public health clinic, but those who get vaccinated outside that can be charged $19.17 outside metro Atlanta.

The first doses will be a nasal spray approved only for healthy people ages 2 to 49. It cannot be given to pregnant women .

It was still unclear when shots for the new virus would be available, but Dr. Schuchat said it could be by the end of next week.

“ We believe that a lot of the states will be directing these early doses to health care workers,” Dr. Schuchat said. Other priority groups include those 6 months to 24 years old ; adults with chronic health conditions; people who live with an infant 6 months old or younger; and pregnant women.

Earlier reports had said pregnant women are four times more likely to be hospitalized by the virus, and Dr. Schuchat reported Thursday that 100 had been sick enough to land in the Intensive Care Unit, with 28 deaths.

“These are really upsetting numbers, I know,” she said. “And I just want to remind women and doctors and nurse midwives that antiviral medicine can be a very important treatment for pregnant women who have respiratory illness.”

Of 77 deaths from the virus where CDC scientists could review autopsy material, a third had a secondary bacterial infection, Dr. Schuchat said.

“The good news is the leading bacteria was streptococcus pneumonia, and we have a vaccine for that,” she said. The vaccine is recommended for adults with chronic health problems, but only about 1 in 5 get it, she said.

“So when people are going in for their seasonal flu vaccines right now … we urge them to consider the pneumococcal vaccine ,” Dr. Schuchat said.

 

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