The Texas County Health Department has received three different versions of the new H1N1 flu vaccine — each one designed for a specific use. The health department said it will be distributing the vaccine according to the guidelines established for each of the three versions.
“There are three main types of H1N1 flu vaccine, and each type is not right for everyone,” said Carolyn Bell R.N., nursing director. “Having said that, it is important to remember that there will eventually be enough vaccine for everyone who wants to be vaccinated against the H1N1 flu.”
The three types are:
—The intranasal FluMist, which is sprayed directly into the nose. It will be used to vaccinate people from two years of age through 49 years of age — unless they are pregnant, have an underlying health condition such as asthma or diabetes or are allergic to one of the components of the vaccine.
—The preservative-free injectable H1N1 flu vaccine, which comes in pre-filled syringes for children and pre-filled syringes for adults. It will be used to vaccinate pregnant women and children between the ages of six months and three years of age, unless they have an allergy to one of the components of the vaccine.
—The regular injectable H1N1 flu vaccine. The most common form of the vaccine, it is typically used to vaccinate those who are three years of age or older, unless they are pregnant or have an allergy to one of the components of the vaccine (such as eggs).
Missouri statute prohibits giving pregnant women and children under three vaccine that contains mercury-based preservative. However, a clause allows the state health director to set aside the ban in certain circumstances, including a pandemic or a shortage of vaccine. On Oct. 22, Margaret Donnelly, director of Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services, determined that a shortage of preservative-free vaccine was preventing pregnant women and young children from obtaining the new H1N1 vaccine, and provided an exemption from the statute. Pregnant women and parents of children are encouraged to consult their health care provider to determine which formulation of vaccine is best for them or their child.
The two injectable forms of the vaccine contain a dead version of the H1N1 virus. The intranasal FluMist(r) contains a small amount of weakened live virus. All flu vaccine currently available in the United States has been manufactured using eggs and is not recommended for those who have an allergy to eggs.
To date, the health department has received the H1N1 vaccine in the form of 400 regular injectable doses; 300 preservative-free injectable doses; and 300 doses of intranasal FluMist(r). Portions of the vaccine continue to be distributed to area medical providers with the remainder on hand at the health department. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised priority groups be the first to be offered the vaccine. Those priority groups are:
—Children between the ages of 2 and 4 years of age.
—Caregivers for infants under the age of six months.
—Healthcare workers and emergency medical service workers.
—Children between the ages of 5 and 18 with underlying medical conditions.
The health department said the vaccine supply is increasing steadily but far too slowly. Vaccines are the best defense against the flu and as more vaccine becomes available healthcare providers are ready to vaccinate everyone in the county who wishes to be vaccinated, the department said.