The 2009 Influenza A H1N1 vaccine is expected to be available in bulk by mid-October, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, it will have a similar safety profile as the seasonal flu vaccines.
The CDC, Milwaukee County Health department and local health officials say receiving the vaccine provides the best protection against the virus.
Scientists testing the vaccine also have determined that receiving one dosage of the vaccine should be sufficient to protect individuals from the virus.
“The requests for the H1N1 vaccine are coming in like crazy,” said Jo Steinberg president of Midland Health in Butler. “Our hands, like everyone else’s, though, are tied. It’s a situation where the government is controlling the production and the distribution.”
According to Steinberg, once the vaccine is produced, the federal government will distribute the vaccine to the state level, which will distribute it to county health departments, which will then distribute it to local hospitals, clinics and other public facilities for administration.
“It isn’t exactly clear yet just how that process will work or what criteria they will use to determine distribution amounts,” Steinberg said. “It is probable though, that communities with more people and more at-risk people, will be near the top of those lists.”
The United States has ordered 195 million doses of the new H1N1 vaccine, Steinberg said. It normally orders 100 million for the seasonal flu vaccine.
The CDC recommends that individuals receive both the seasonal influenza and the 2009 H1N1 vaccination.
“The chances of having a reaction to a flu vaccine are one in a million,” Steinberg said. “There should be no fear. There is a greater chance of getting the virus and dying from it than from having a reaction to the shot.”
The Centers for Disease Control worked with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to determine target populations for the influenza A H1N1 vaccine.
Those target populations include pregnant women, household contacts and caregivers for children under six months, health care and emergency medical services personnel, all people ages six months to 24 years old and individuals 25 to 64 with conditions associated with higher risk complications from the virus.
According to the CDC, everyone who wants to receive a vaccination will be able to do so, just not all at the same time.
The Wisconsin Division of Public Health is planning a phased approach to vaccinating those who want the vaccinations.
Phase I : Health care workers, emergency medical services workers and patients at high risk for complications from influenza.
Phase II: School-based and public mass clinics for the target populations, with some vaccine to be administered by private providers to the target populations.
Phase III: Everyone else who wishes to receive the vaccine.