PA Department of Health: National Delays in H1N1 Flu Vaccine Distribution Highlight Need for Continued Prevention Efforts

Thursday, October 29, 2009 General News
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HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Responding to delays in the nationwide distribution H1N1 flu vaccine,

Department of Health officials today urged Pennsylvanians to continue to take steps to prevent the spread of illness.

"We recognize that many people are frustrated trying to find the H1N1 vaccine," Department of Health Deputy Secretary

Michael Huff said while hosting a webinar on the status of vaccine supply and distribution. "We, too, are frustrated by the production delays. We are promptly distributing all of the vaccine allocated to us by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in order to ensure it reaches those who need it the most."

The department continues to target the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, priority groups for vaccination -- individuals between the ages of six months and 24 years, household contacts and caregivers for children younger than six months of age, pregnant women, healthcare providers and emergency medical services personnel, and those under 65 with underlying health conditions.

To date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, has allocated approximately 820,400 doses of the pandemic H1N1 vaccine for Pennsylvania. The vaccine has come mostly in multi-dose injectable vials and as Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV), also known as FluMist.  LAIV is licensed for use in healthy persons between 2-49 years of age.

Pennsylvania has also received a small number of preservative-free single dose injections for use in individuals four years of age and older.

The vaccine allocated to Pennsylvania has been distributed to 662 certified providers, including pediatricians, family health practitioners, obstetricians, hospitals, schools, colleges and universities who agreed to target the ACIP recommended groups. The certified providers are those that have registered with the Department of Health to provide H1N1 vaccine and have completed the required vaccine user agreement.

A limited amount of vaccine has also been supplied to state health centers and local, county and municipal health departments to help reach the target populations.

Members of the priority groups should contact their healthcare provider to learn if the H1N1 vaccine is available in their area. If their provider does not plan to administer the vaccine or if an individual does not have a healthcare provider, please call 1-877-PA HEALTH or visit www.H1N1inPA.com for more information.

The CDC indicates that eventually there will be enough vaccine for everyone who wants to receive it, but that may be several months away. Public vaccination clinics will be held across the state once sufficient vaccine becomes available.

Even as the H1N1 vaccine becomes more widely available, it is important to follow these steps to prevent the spread of illness:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and put the used tissue in the waste basket.  If don't have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve, but never into your hands or onto bare skin.
  • Keep your hands away from your face and don't touch your mouth, nose and eyes.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Keep clean frequently used surfaces such as knobs, countertops and desks.
  • Stay home from work or school whenever you are sick, and remain home until you are fully recovered.

A wide range of H1N1 information is available online at www.H1N1inPA.com.

Media contact: Stacy Kriedeman, 717-787-1783

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health



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