The Louisiana Department of Health today confirmed that the first doses of the state’s initial allotment of H1N1 vaccine—26,000 doses of nasal spray—have begun arriving at pediatric providers across the state who chose to provide H1N1 vaccine and are ready to administer it to their patients.
These providers will use the H1N1 flu vaccine with patients in their practices who meet the requirements for target populations for this particular vaccine—healthy 2 to 5 year olds. These providers ordered this vaccine specifically for their patients, and will be contacting their patients directly to set up appointments for vaccination.
"One of the best steps residents can take to keep themselves healthy and prevent the spread of both the seasonal and H1N1 flu is to get their flu shots," said LDH Secretary Alan Levine. "Residents should determine if their provider will offer the vaccines, when they expect vaccine to be available and how to make an appointment to receive the flu shots. Please check regularly with www.FightTheFluLA.com for up to date information."
Seasonal flu shots for children and adults in nasal spray and injectable forms are available now through many private medical providers and clinics, pharmacies, and other locations.
Over the next few weeks, H1N1 flu shots will also be available in nasal spray and injectable forms for children and adults through a large network of participating providers.
H1N1 Vaccinations will be available initially to target groups, people who are at highest risk for transmitting and complications from the new virus.
Those in target groups for the H1N1 vaccine should begin contacting their private provider or retail locations now to inquire about availability of the new vaccine, and should make an appointment to get it.
Target groups for the H1N1 vaccine include:
- Pregnant women
- Health care and emergency medical services personnel
- People from the ages of 6 months to 24 years
- People who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age
- People from ages 25 through 64 years who are at higher risk for flu complications because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems
State Health Officer Jimmy Guidry, M.D., emphasized that the H1N1 vaccine is just as safe as the seasonal flu vaccine. "The H1N1 vaccine was made and licensed utilizing the same production methods as the seasonal flu vaccine, which have been used safely for decades," Dr. Guidry said. "Studies by the CDC show that the vaccine is very safe and very effective, and we certainly encourage all Louisianians to get both their seasonal and H1N1 flu shots this flu season. This will not only help protect the individual receiving the vaccine, but their friends, family and neighbors as well."
LDH officials also announced details today on how the H1N1 vaccine is being distributed. The H1N1 vaccine is a federal asset that is being sent from the federal government through a distribution company directly to the 1,600 Louisiana providers that ordered the most amount of vaccine. More than 2,000 providers registered to administer the vaccine in Louisiana, and the state will begin working in three to four weeks to break down smaller shipments to the remaining 400 providers.
There are five separate formulations of the H1N1 vaccine, and not every preparation will be appropriate for every target population. Each week, LDH will work with providers across the state to assess the demand for the H1N1 vaccine, and will place orders with the federal government based on that demand and the amount of each type of vaccine available that week.
Following the initial shipment received this week, providers in the state will continue to receive more vaccine every five to ten days for the next three months, including formulations that are appropriate for more groups, such as the injectable vaccine in both adult and child doses. Next week, the state expects providers to receive more than 40,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine.
Groups targeted for vaccination with these next doses include more young children, pregnant women and front line health care workers, those with direct patient care responsibilities.
The H1N1 vaccine will be available at a wide variety of providers within three to four weeks (late October to early November) for other target groups, such as parents and caregivers of infants and non-elderly adults with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, and heart conditions.
Vaccination campaigns in Louisiana schools will also take place. The department expects to begin these in elementary schools in mid-November, and continue for a month into middle and high schools.
Dr. Frank Welch, the state medical director for pandemic preparedness, said, "Thousands more doses of nasal and injectable forms of the H1N1 vaccine will be shipped across the state each week over the next several months, making vaccine available for target populations in every parish and for every provider who registered with the state. The entire H1N1 vaccination campaign will take around four months, and by the end of January every Louisianian who wants a vaccine should have access to it."
In the coming weeks, the department will launch an online search tool with Google®-style maps showing the location of providers who have registered to administer the H1N1 vaccine. In the next four to six weeks, vaccine will be offered to the public at selected locations, which will be posted at www.FightTheFluLA.com. Retail locations and public health-sponsored sites that have registered to distribute vaccine when it becomes available include Walgreens, CVS, parish health units, and school-based health clinics.
It is estimated that more than 97,000 Louisianians have already had the H1N1 virus, with 1472 lab-confirmed cases.
Twenty Louisianians have died from complications related to the H1N1 virus. Six H1N1-related deaths were confirmed today: three adult women from LDH Region II (the seven-parish area including Baton Rouge), an adult male from LDH Region VII (the nine-parish region including Shreveport), a female child from LDH Region VIII (the 12-parish Northeast Louisiana region), and a male child from LDH Region IX (Livingston, St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington Parishes).
LDH recently launched the state’s Fight the Flu campaign, which is aimed at keeping Louisianians healthy by promoting immunizations and good hygiene to prevent the spread of the seasonal flu and the H1N1 virus. For more information on flu activity in Louisiana, including guidance for families and medical professionals, visit www.FightTheFluLA.com.
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.