H1N1 vaccine to arrive here by next week

The Mesa County Health Department announced Thursday that the first shipment of the 2009 H1N1 vaccine will arrive next week.

The department expects to distribute 1,300 live intranasal vaccines, also called flu mist, to the preregistered physicians’ offices for immediate inoculation of those people deemed at high risk for complications from flu.

Because of a limited supply of the live virus, the vaccine will be given only to healthy individuals without other medical complications. That group includes people up to age 49 who work in the health care or emergency medical services with direct patient contact, those who live or care for infants less than 6 months old, and children ages 2 to 4 years old.

Since the first shipment of vaccine is available in the flu mist form only, those not able to receive a live virus — such as pregnant women or those with weakened immune systems — will have to wait until an injectable vaccine arrives.

“Basically what’s happening is that we will be receiving very limited quantities, and it will be given to this subgroup first,” said Kristy Emerson, public information officer for the Health Department.

When the injectable vaccine arrives, pregnant women and children ages 5 through 18 with chronic medical conditions will be added to those in the high-priority group.

The general public can receive a dose if supplies are available after those regarded as high risk have been vaccinated.

Emerson said the vaccine will be distributed through the preregistered doctor’s offices, not the Health Department.

For eligible recipients not under a physician’s care, Emerson said, “That’s something to work through.”

The vaccination itself is free, but there may be administrative charges from the offices, Emerson said.

Primary Care Partners, one of the largest physicians offices on the Western Slope, will receive some of these first doses, according to Dr. Patrice Whistler of Colorado Pediatric Associates, a division of Primary Care Partners.

“We will not give shots to those who drop in, but it will be administered as part of our scheduled flu clinics,” Whistler said.

Those clinic locations and times are available at the Primary Care Partners Web site, http://www.pcpgj.com.

Whistler said patients who suspect they have the flu probably have the H1N1 virus, because it is the only one circulating in the United States. Unless the illness is serious, patients are encouraged to remain at home to prevent the spread of the disease.

According to a news release from the Health Department, five people in Mesa County have been hospitalized because of the 2009 H1N1 virus since the beginning of August. Colorado has reported six deaths from H1N1 in the state.

More information about H1N1 is available at http://www.health.mesacounty.us.


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