Officials: H1N1 vaccine supply adequate

August 18, 2009 2:14:42 PM PDT
The head of the Chicago Health Department says the city will have more than enough vaccine to go around.Chicago's public health commissioner offered up a couple key pieces of advice on Tuesday afternoon: "Don't freak out. Use common sense."

It's true the H1N1 flu is still with us, but its impact is greatly reduced from what we saw in the spring. And production of a swine flu vaccine is moving slower than expected, but the supply, Dr. Terry Mason says, should meet the need.

"The one thing we don't want is people to panic about this. There will be plenty of vaccination vaccine," said Dr. Terry Mason, Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner.

The vaccine for H1N1 flu will be arriving slower than expected, but Chicago public health officials anticipate a first shipment of 300,000 to 400,000 doses in mid October and a sufficient supply to meet demand in the weeks that follow.

With H1N1's arrival earlier this year, the city has been monitoring flu cases through its neighborhood clinics and city-wide health network.

"We're also increasing that surveillance system to include emergency rooms so we'll have a couple systems to see when influenza increases in Chicago," said Dr. Julie Moria, Chicago Department of Public Health.

The emphasis here is not just on swine flu, but on regular seasonal flu for which the city has ample vaccine available. The health department is advising everyone to get a seasonal flu shot starting in August and September. From September 14 to October 9, the city will be offering seasonal flu vaccinations free of charge at 45 one-day flu clinics.

Seasonal flu is more aggressive and has a higher mortality rate than swine flu has shown, but because the latter is new and its victims trend younger, the antenna are up and the vaccine's in demand.

"We want common sense and common protocol to prevail," said Dr. Mason.

Part of the common sense approach that Dr Mason offers up is pretty basic stuff. If you're sick, don't go to school, don't go to work. If you have a cough, cover up. Wash your hands.

When the swine flu vaccine arrives, the city will detail its plan for distribution. The first of the supply goes to health care workers then the young, pregnant moms, and those at greater risk.


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