H1-N1 vaccine still very scarce - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

H1-N1 vaccine still very scarce

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The swine flu vaccine is now arriving in south Georgia, but you can't get it yet. One of the 14 health departments in southwest Georgia got some H1-N1 vaccine Monday.

But the state hasn't passed protocols along to the local health department that allow them to administer the vaccine.

What you need to know about this new H1-N1 nasal spray vaccine is basically on these two sheets. You can find them on the Department of Public Health website and if you get the shot, health officials should give them to you. It helps explain why some should get it now and some should wait.

While seasonal flu shots have been administered for several weeks, the vaccine to help ease the symptoms of the most common strain are just arriving and they're in flu mist form. In Georgia, right now only a small group of kids can get it.

"At this point the recommendation is for healthy children between the ages of two and four. It has to be healthy children, children without asthma," said Southwest Georgia Health District Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant.

Children with other chronic conditions should also not get the mist. Decatur County was the first health department to get the vaccine today and there will only be about 1,900 doses split among 14 counties.

"It was based on population of two to four year olds, so that was the amount that was calculated," Grant said.

For those who worry about the safety of this new vaccine, doctors say it follows the same protocols and testing as the traditional flu shot.

"It was made the exact same way and the virus itself is a new type virus but its still an influenza type virus, just like we've been making vaccines for the last 50 or 60 years," said Dr. Craig Smith, Infectious Disease Specialist.

Doctors say in several weeks when the H1-N1 flu shot is available those at risk, like pregnant women, the immune compromised, and health care providers should get it.

"In places like Argentina that have already finished their flu season, 93 percent of the flu was the epidemic H1N1 it totally replaced the seasonal flu," Smith said. 

All indications are, it will be the same thing here in America.

The good news is that both the health department and infectious disease specialists say cases of H1-N1 here in southwest Georgia seem to be on the downward trend, although there have been some spikes in areas like Lee County. They stress the importance of having patience with how the vaccine is rolled out.

Parents interested in having their healthy children vaccinated should contact their local health department to make an appointment. Only public health is distributing the H1-N1 vaccine.

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