Doses of the H1N1 flu vaccine are on the way to Alabama.
State health officials gave an update on the current status of the flu in Alabama and laid out plans for vaccine distribution in a news conference today.
Health officials say 18 percent of emergency room patients and ten percent of patients at doctors’ offices are reporting flu-like symptoms.
About five percent of children are missing school because of the flu.
Officials say they expect the first shipment of h1n1 vaccine to arrive in Alabama by the end of this week.
During the first week in October, approximately 51,000 doses of the H1N1 live virus nasal mist flu vaccine are expected to be delivered to Alabama. These doses will be distributed to health care providers for people who are most at-risk. That group includes individuals six months to twenty four years of age, people 25 to 64 years of age with other underlying medical conditions, health care providers and pregnant women.
Donald Williamson, M.D., of the Alabama Dept. of Public Health says, “They certainly do carry an increased risk of complications from h1n1 as well as they have a higher death rate than other people do from H1N1.”
By November first, the state of Alabama should receive approximately 500,000 doses of vaccine.
Williamson says, “We anticipate using some of that vaccine for our school based clinics. we anticipate pushing large amounts of all of this vaccine to the private sector.”
Officials say even if you think you had the H1N1 virus; it’s still a good idea to get vaccinated. Pandemic flu viruses tend to become the dominant influenza strain in future years.
Williamson says, “H3N2 became the dominant seasonal virus influenza virus from 1969 until last year. So we would not be surprised to see H1N1 then become the dominant seasonal H1N1 virus from 2010 until our next pandemic.”
So far eight deaths in Alabama have been attributed to H1N1 flu.
Starting at noon on Tuesday, licensed health care providers will be able to order h1n1 influenza vaccine online.
The state will be working with schools to set up voluntary clinics for H1N1 immunization.
Written permission will be required.
State health officials are manning a toll free influenza hot line: 877-377-7285 - from 7 a.m. To 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, to answer any questions you may have about the flu, again, that number is 877-377-7285.