As people in high-risk groups wait, the H1N1 flu vaccine continues to trickle in across the US, from state to state. DHEC officials say as of last week, 40 million doses of the vaccine had been pledged by distributors, but only 32 million had been distributed. But officials say the supply should catch up during the month of November.
DHEC spokesman Adam Myrick says there are now more than 700 locations statewide approved to administer the vaccine, including all Health Department clinics and many private practice physicians’ offices.
Dr. Robert Ball, DHEC’s Infectious Disease Epidemiologist, says the H1N1 vaccine supply will trickle in week by week during November but will be in full distribution during December.
“The federal government has purchased enough vaccines for nearly 200 million Americans,” says Ball. “Two out every three Americans can and should get vaccinated but understandably there will be folks who opt out.”
Ball emphasizes that the vaccine now being administered is considered safe and effective according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Dr. Ball says as the vaccine becomes available, it should be given out first to certain people: “Namely children, especially children with asthma, pregnant women, and adults with serious underlying health conditions. Those above 65 with no underlying conditions since it’s likely they have a little residual immunity left from being exposed to swine flu strains decades ago.”
Dr. Ball advises those who need the vaccine the most to call their health care provider regularly, and eventually it will be available. He says it’s not necessary for the average person to rush out and get the vaccine immediately. Ball says H1N1 will be with us for at least another year.
Ball says patience is important for those waiting for the vaccine.
“I’m being patient, and waiting weeks until I get my vaccine, even though I’m a health care worker,” said Ball, “because we have younger nurses in the health department who live with children, who’re at risk, and it’s more important for them to get vaccinated than this old timer.”
Go to www.CDC.gov for more information on the H1N1 virus and vaccine.