H1N1 vaccine still in high demand in SLO County

The demand for the H1N1 vaccine remains high, and the county Public Health Department is advising those like pregnant women who are in priority groups for receiving it contact their health provider directly to get the shot.

The department itself does not have extra vaccines at this point, and it will make announcements as they become available.

The latest shipment to the county of 5,600 doses has been distributed to various health professionals who will administer them, and the county plans to start giving the shots to children at a few small schools soon. An additional 3,500 doses have been made available this week to Cal Poly students. And health professionals have ordered some of their shots directly from the manufacturer.

There has been a nationwide shortage in the vaccine.

The department reports 21 hospitalizations countywide to date, and one death consistent with H1N1 infection. There have been only 111 laboratory confirmations of the disease, although health professionals in the county and in the state and nation believe that the predominant influenza strain in the community currently is H1N1. Because of the sheer number of cases, testing to confirm H1N1 has almost ceased except in special cases.

The medical community is now making diagnoses based upon the fact that regional tests have shown it is the primary influenza in the population at this time.

This season is unusual in that regular seasonal influenza often comes later in the year after high risk groups have received the flu shot. In this case, the vaccines are arriving slowly even as the number of cases is increasing.

The priority groups for vaccines beyond pregnant women are: individuals aged 6 months to 24 years old; persons aged 24 to 64 with long-term health problems, persons who live with or care for infants younger than six months old, and health care and emergency workers.