The H1N1 vaccine is being delivered to clinics, health departments and doctors' offices throughout the nation, but some people will have to wait to be vaccinated. However, the Oregon County Health Department has yet to receive its first batch of the H1N1 vaccine.
Sheila Russell, with the Oregon County Health Department, said it could be several days before they get the mist version of the vaccine. Russell said she did not know why Oregon County has not received its shipment yet, but she said, "I think initially it was overwhelming for the drug companies."
Health officials advise that the first wave of the vaccine will be administered to those who are most susceptible to the H1N1, or swine flu, virus.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced that Missouri began receiving doses of the vaccine during the first week of October.
About 17,000 doses of the aerosol mist vaccine was delivered Oct. 6. Over the next couple of weeks, another 365,000 doses will be shipped to the state.
According to MDHSS, "The mist version of the vaccine can be used to inoculate healthy children and adults from ages 2 through 49. However, it uses a live-virus formulation and therefore is not appropriate for pregnant women, children under 2-years-old, or anyone with underlying health conditions, such as asthma."
The following shipment will include up to 250,000 doses of the injectable form of the vaccine. This form of the drug can be used by pregnant women and children younger than 2-years-old and those with underlying health conditions. These groups are considered to be at high risk for contracting the disease.
According to health officials, the first dosage shipments are small because they wanted to make the drug available as soon as possible.
"The decision was made to ship (the) vaccine immediately so we could start protecting people against this disease as soon as possible," Margaret Donnelly, director of MDHSS, said. "With the shipment expected in the next two weeks, we believe we will meet our goal of having significant amounts of vaccine available throughout the state by mid-October."
"To get vaccines to the public as efficiently as possible, state health officials had vaccine makers ship vaccines directly to local public health agencies or to health care providers who signed up to give the vaccine to patients," according to MDHSS.
Because pregnant women, children and young adults are the most at risk for contracting H1N1, they will be given priority in distribution of the vaccine. Apparently, older people are less at risk for getting H1N1 because of some preexisting resistance to the virus.
"When we (the Oregon County Health Department) do get the vaccine, we plan on staying open extra days at the offices to provide the vaccine to anyone who wants it," Russell said. She said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have the goal of vaccinating all who want the vaccine.
"We expect to have adequate supplies of (the) vaccine available statewide for the high-risk groups," Donnelly said. "Steady additional shipments of the vaccine should eventually allow us to provide flu shots or mist to everyone who wants them."
Russell said most of the flu-like illnesses that have been reported in Oregon County are H1N1. "We're not seeing seasonal flu," Russell said. "What everybody's got right now is swine flu."
Oregon County had its first confirmed case of H1N1 about three to four weeks ago. She said about 60 percent of H1N1 cases are in school-aged children.
Russell said it is too early in the year for seasonal flu to develop. Normally, seasonal flu is active from November to February. She said that is why health departments have stressed the importance of getting a regular flu shot.
The Oregon County Health Department no longer has adult seasonal influenza vaccines available, but they do have infant and child (6 months to 18 years) seasonal influenza vaccines left over.
She said once the H1N1 vaccine is made available, it is important for health care providers and those taking care of people with H1N1 to get vaccinated.
Russell also stressed the importance of prevention. She said people tend to be mobile even when they are sick, but they can spread the virus to anyone they are in contact with. "Stay home when you're sick," Russell said.
She said the Oregon County Health Department updates its Web site whenever there is something new to report. Their Web site is www.oregoncountyhealthdepartment.com. For more information call the Oregon County Health Department's Alton office at 778-7450 or the Thayer office at 264-3114.