State Places Orders for H1N1 Vaccines
The official flu season began Thursday.
North Carolina began placing its first orders for 2009 H1N1 vaccine Wednesday.
The vaccine has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The first batches are expected to be shipped to providers across the state in limited quantities during the month of October.
"We do not expect there will be a shortage of 2009 H1N1 vaccine," said Dr. Jeffrey Engel, the state health director. "But the first shipments of the vaccine will be small, and providers will not get all their allotted vaccine at once. However, 2009 H1N1 vaccine will continue to be produced as long as there is a demand for it."
All distribution of the 2009 H1N1 vaccine in the United States is being managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC tells states how much vaccine they may order and when they may place orders.
The ordered vaccine is shipped by the CDC's central distributor to the hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices, health departments, retail pharmacies and other providers designated by local and state officials. The vaccine may take up to two weeks to reach providers' offices. More shipments will follow as the vaccine is produced by manufacturers and the individual lots are tested and approved by the FDA.
The CDC has recommended that certain groups of the population receive the 2009 H1N1 vaccine when it first becomes available. These priority groups include:
n Pregnant women
n People who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age
n Health-care and emergency medical services personnel
n Children and young people between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old
n People ages 25 through 64 years of age who are at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.
Two forms of 2009 H1N1 vaccine are being produced -- an injectable vaccine and an inhaled nasal spray vaccine. Pregnant women and children under 2 years of age should seek the injectable vaccine, as the nasal spray vaccine is not recommended for use in these groups.
All of North Carolina's first shipment of 2009 H1N1 vaccine is nasal spray vaccine. The state expects to begin receiving injectable vaccine in the coming weeks.
Individuals in the priority groups who wish to receive a 2009 H1N1 vaccine should contact their health-care providers or their local health departments to find out about vaccine availability and possible costs.
The vaccine itself is provided by the federal government at no charge, but private providers may charge a fee for administering the vaccine to patients.
State health leaders continue to urge people with flu-like symptoms to stay home from school or work, cover coughs and sneezes, and wash hands frequently and thoroughly.
In addition to the H1N1 vaccination effort, all North Carolina residents are encouraged to receive a seasonal flu vaccination.
The seasonal flu vaccine is not expected to protect against the 2009 H1N1 flu, and the 2009 H1N1 vaccine is not expected to protect against seasonal flu. Seasonal flu vaccination continues to be important, since in a typical flu season, about 36,000 people die from seasonal flu-related causes in the U.S.
For more information, see www.flu.nc.gov or call the bilingual N.C CARE-LINE at (800) 662-7030.
More like this story