Swine flu vaccine expected this month
The St. Charles Community Health Center expects the H1N1 flu vaccine to be available locally by mid-October, but only to those most at risk from the disease, such as pregnant women and young children.
Julia Bodden, the center’s community outreach coordinator, said that it is unknown how many vaccines the center will get at first and that the mid-October date is dependent on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“All we know right now is that we are supposed to get the H1N1 vaccine by mid-October and that the first group to get it would be those at high risk,” she said.
Bodden said that the vaccine would then be distributed to the general public as more shipments arrived.
“More than likely, those not in the high-risk group would not be able to get the vaccine until a later date, but we will let everyone know exactly when that will be when we know more about the shipments,” she added.
St. Charles Parish Hospital spokesman Brandon Kelly said there is still no date on when the hospital will receive the H1N1 vaccine, but also said that it would be given to healthcare workers, first responders and those in high-risk groups before it is available to the general public.
The CDC said last week that the first shipments of the newly-developed vaccine should start arriving in some doctors’ offices and health clinics as early as Oct. 5. The CDC did not announce where the initial shipments of 6 million to 7 million doses will be sent, only saying that they would be sent directly to doctors, clinics and other providers designated on a state-by-state basis. Most of the initial doses will be in a nasal spray form, according to the CDC, but the majority of the produced vaccine will be in the form of shots.
Government health officials anticipate more than 200 million doses of the new vaccine to be distributed nationwide.
According to existing reports, the H1N1 virus, known commonly as the swine flu, has caused more than 600 deaths and 9,000 hospitalizations in the United States.
While the flu seemed to strike St. Charles Parish hard at the beginning of the month, schools’ Public Information Director Rochelle Cancienne-Touchard said that the number of students sent home with symptoms has decreased dramatically.
“On the first of September, we sent home 51 students that displayed flu-like symptoms,” she said. “On Sept. 22, two students were sent home.”
That decrease may have had to do with the wide-availability of the regular flu vaccine. Kelly said that the hospital has administered 680 doses of the vaccine, while Bodden said that the health center has given 1,280 doses.
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