2009-10-15 / Local & State

Health Department Announces First Doses Of H1N1 Vaccine Arrive In Pennsylvania

Preregistered and certified providers in the southwest, southeast and north-central regions of the state have begun to receive the first doses of the live attenuated pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccine, also known by the brand name FluMist, the Pennsylvania Department of Health said Thursday.

This vaccine, which comes as a nasal spray, is recommended primarily for healthy persons between the ages of 2-49 years of age. It is not indicated for several of the groups at highest priority for vaccination, including pregnant women, children under two years of age, those with certain underlying health conditions and healthcare providers who care for persons with significant impairments in their immune system. Live virus vaccines like LAIV are generally not given to these groups of people.

The department recommended this limited number of doses be used primarily in healthy children ages 5-9 years. This recommendation was made based on three factors: the type of vaccine available, the Advisory Council on Immunization Practice recommendations for priority use of the vaccine and the patterns of disease currently being seen in Pennsylvania. In addition, children under age 10 years require two doses of vaccine at least three weeks apart in order for adequate levels of protection to develop. Using available vaccine in the 5-9-year age group will allow immunity to build in children experiencing significant levels of disease as quickly as possible.

Department officials will work with registered providers to assure vaccine reaches individuals in the prioritized groups. The department expects to have at least 2.5 million doses available by the end of October for distribution to all parts of the state. Eventually, vaccine will be available to anyone who wishes to receive it and reduce the likelihood that they will develop pandemic A/H1N1 influenza and its related complications.

To find an H1N1 vaccination site, those in the recommended groups should contact their healthcare provider or their child’s school. If they will not be providing the vaccine, please call 1-877-PA-Health for more information about how to receive the vaccine.

Additional vaccine is expected to be available for those not in the recommended groups by early November.

For more information on vaccination sites for the general public, visit www.H1N1inPA.com.

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