Local officials work on vaccine plans

October 14, 2009 (CHICAGO) On Wednesday, the state's key advisory board on immunization met to discuss where Illinois sits in terms of preparation for dealing with the pandemic.

The meeting was scheduled for three hours-- but it was over in one. Public health officials from the state, Cook County and the collar counties reviewed plans to distribute a vaccine that right now is not widely available. Officials are confident it will be soon and said people have to just be patient about how logistics work.

County and state public health officials came together, watched by representatives of vaccine makers and the general public. There was frustration that more people haven't been vaccinated against h1n1 yet.

"We are at the mercy of the CDC producing the vaccine and getting it to IDPH and so we have to tell people we are doing the best we can," said Janet Larson, Illinois Department Of Public Health (IDPH)

"You have an instant entitlement, that, 'You know I am supposed to get this and you are promoting to me to get it, so why can't I get it now?' People do not understand logistics," said Steve Lasker.

The federal government is making H1N1 vaccine available to the states which are pushing it out to cities and counties as it comes in. High risk groups will get the H1N1 shot first.

They include:

  • pregnant women and those with contact with babies younger than 6 months
  • healthcare and emergency medical services employees
  • individuals 6 months to 24 years of age
  • individuals 25 to 64 years of age with underlying medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes that put them at high risk for flu-related complications
  • The committee heard details about the virus' power.

    "If you look at the virolgoical subtypes now it is crowded out by 2009 h1n1.... For the last 3, 4, 5 weeks it has been between 90 and 99% H1N1," said Dr. Kenneth Soyemi, MD.

    Some opposed to mass vaccinations say people aren't hearing that H1N1 vaccine is safe. But the committee's chair was adamant getting the h1n1 vaccine, especially the nasal version, which is cold adapted and thus altered to not grow deep inside the human body is smart.

    "When it sits there and multiplies it produces an immune response that protects the lungs which is where the morbidity and mortality for influenza comes from," said Dr. Nancy Khardori, Chair, IL Immunization Advisory Center.

    At the Walgreen's in the South Loop, where demand for H1N1 vaccinations are high -- there is a calm as people wait.

    "Part of me thinks there is more hype about it, than there really should be-- but we get seasonal flu all the time and more people die from that than H1N1," said Lima Walusiku.

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