More flu vaccine is available

Around 1,700 more doses of H1N1 nasal spray are available in time for
children who need a second dose of vaccine to achieve full immunity,
says Southwest Health District Health Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant.
“The approximately 1,730 children aged 2 through 9 in our 14-county
Health District who have gotten their first dose of vaccine will need
another dose 28 days later to be fully protected against the pandemic
H1N1 flu,” Grant said. “Because the vaccine is in short supply, some
parents have been anxious. We’re pleased to have acquired more H1N1
nasal spray, which can be used to provide booster doses as well as to
continue to vaccinate people who fall into high risk categories.”
The nasal mist, also known as LAIV for `live attenuated influenza
vaccine,’ is made with live, weakened flu viruses, and is only for
healthy people aged 2 to 49 who are not pregnant.
“Children who received their first dose of H1N1 vaccine in the
injectable form can get their second dose as a nasal spray as long as
they don’t have any of the contra-indications, such as compromised
immune systems or conditions like asthma,” Grant said. “Since we
don’t know when we will get another shipment of H1N1 flu shots,
parents may want to go ahead and get their children fully protected
before the holidays.”
Southwest Health District received the new supply of H1N1 nasal spray
vaccine late Nov. 19 and began transporting it to county health
departments Nov. 20, said Grant. In addition, area childcare providers
who had signed up to receive vaccine and met required federal and state
guidelines also received an allotment from the new supply.
“About 210 doses were made available to the childcare providers in
the District who expressed willingness to accept LAIV,” she said.
Meanwhile, influenza-like illness continues to sicken residents in
Southwest Georgia. As of Nov. 18, 13 new hospitalizations were reported,
said District Epidemiologist Jacqueline Jenkins.
“The hospitalizations included very young children and older
adults,” she said. “We are seeing a lot of these patients with
co-infections of pneumonia.”
H1N1’s highest attack rate is in children and young adults, who have
no immunity to it, said Grant. “The lowest H1N1 infection rates are in
adults 65 and older. However, older adults who do catch this virus are
at risk of significant illness.”
Even though they are not among the first designated to receive H1N1
vaccine, people 65 and older can get vaccinated against pneumococcal
disease, plus they are prioritized to receive antiviral medication if
they develop flu-like symptoms, said Grant. “Older adults should
contact their healthcare providers at the first sign of influenza so
they can begin receiving antivirals immediately. These medications are
most effective when they are administered within the first 48 hours.”
Eventually, older adults – and others not in priority groups – will be
able to get H1N1 vaccine. However, production delays continue to hobble
vaccination efforts. “We don’t know when we will be able to open up
the H1N1 vaccine to more of the population,” Grant said.

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