Distributing the swine flu vaccine

    Health workers urged to get the H1N1 vaccine

    The H1N1 vaccine should be available in Pennsylvania in mid-to-late October. Health officials say supplies will be limited in the first weeks after the initial shipment arrives. WHYY reports on the plans to distribute the vaccine.

    Listen: [audio:090909teflu.mp3]

    Health workers, anyone 6 months to 24-years-old and pregnant women are among the five high-risk groups who will receive the vaccine first. People with chronic medical conditions like asthma or diabetes should also be immunized early.

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    Joe DiMino is Montgomery County’s health director. He says residents should get two shots to get the best protection.

    DiMino: It will probably take two doses, 21 to 28 days apart, but there is some news that with one dose there may be a partial immunity.

    While young people are the primary risk group for the swine flu, it is often older people who are hit hardest by the regular seasonal flu.

    An official with the Delaware Valley hospital association says some Philly-area hospitals are considering policy changes that would make the swine flu vaccine mandatory for health care workers.

    Philadelphia health commissioner Don Schwarz says right now the public health sector is not requiring health workers to get the shot, but he says workers can help Pennsylvania prepare for this fall’s H1N1 outbreak by protecting themselves from becoming sick.

    Schwarz: The feeling is that health care workers are a very high priority group for immunization. I think that we all support that health care workers should be immunized for H1N1.

    New York state is requiring all health workers to get immunized against both the H1N1 virus and the seasonal flu, but it’s unclear how that rule will be enforced.

    Schwarz says: If you usually get the regular flu shot, don’t skip it this year.

    Schwarz: People may need to get two flu shots, but in general older folks are at risk for seasonal flu and younger folks are at risk for H1N1. But there will be a group in the middle, who have special needs, people with respiratory disease, diabetes, people with immune problems, and other conditions like, that may need to get both.

    The commissioner says most healthy people will be able to fight through a bout of swine flu without anti-viral medication. He says the H1N1 virus is not a super-flu, but simply a new strain that many people are not immune to.

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