The first batch of the H1N1 vaccine
is arriving at doctors’ offices and clinics around the country (including
mine). I want to give all of you the 411, but I also have specific information
for patients in my practice. Here are 12 things you need to know about H1N1
Tip #1. What version is coming?The first batch of vaccine being distributed is the
live-attenuated H1N1 nasal spray (just like the Flumist for the seasonal flu
Tip #2. How much is coming?Doctors’ offices will only receive a small batch on the first
distribution (my office will only have 500 doses), but medical providers will
get more shipments and the injectable (shot) H1N1 vaccine in the coming weeks.
Tip #3. Who can get it?There are only certain people who are eligible to receive thenasal
sprayform of the vaccine. Here are the
people who qualify:
---2 years old to 49 years old
---Healthy (no medical problems like asthma, heart disease,
neurologic disease, etc)
---No history of wheezing in the past 12 months
---Normally functioning immune system (no immune
---Not currently ill with a moderate to severe illness (yes,
it is okay to get the vaccine with a minor cold or mild fever)
---Not allergic to eggs
---No prior history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome
---Have not taken any antiviral medication (Tamiflu,
Relenza) in the past 48 hours
---Is not taking aspirin or aspirin-containing medication
---Have not received any other live attenuated vaccine (MMR,
chickenpox, or Flumist) in the past 4 weeks*
* WORTH REPEATING:
THERE MUST BE AT LEAST 28 DAYS (4 WEEKS) BETWEEN RECEIVING FLUMIST (OR
MMR/CHICKENPOX) AND H1NI NASAL SPRAY TO ENSURE AN EFFECTIVE IMMUNE RESPONSE.
Tip #4. Who should get it first?The first children who should get the nasal spray
form of the vaccine are healthy 2-3 year olds (especially if they have a
younger sibling who is less than 6 months old in the house, a pregnant mom, or
family member with an underlying health issue). Since the vaccine is in very
short supply initially, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that those
most in need of the vaccine get the vaccine first. I would bet most practices
will simply ask patients to follow the honor system.
Tip #5. When
should everyone get it?As more supply becomes
available, anyone who wants to get the vaccine should be able to get it. It
will also be easier when the injectable (shot) form is available because that
can be given to anyone 6 months of age or older who does not have an egg
Tip #6. How much will it cost?There is no charge for the vaccine itself, but there
may be an administration fee that most insurance companies will cover.
Tip #7. How many doses are necessary?Kids under age 10 need two doses of H1N1 vaccine
(either nasal spray or the shot form) to mount an effective immune response.
The recommended interval between the first dose and the booster dose will
probably be 4 weeks, but I will let you know if that changes.
Tip #8. Is there any red tape?Yes. All patients who receive the H1N1 vaccine are
required to read the vaccine information statement and fill out a questionnaire
before receiving the vaccine. And,
medical staff must record each H1N1 vaccine given in a special tracking system for
the state health department. (In English: this may take a few minutes!)
Tip #9. For Dr Brown’s patients and patients of Capital
Pediatrics Group:How will it be
administered?We will begin offering the
H1N1 nasal spray vaccine on Monday, October 19, 2009. Due to the anticipated
high demand, we will offer H1N1 or seasonal flu vaccine by appointment only
during weekday office hours. Starting on Friday, October 16, 2009, we will
begin scheduling nurse/vaccine appointments for Monday, October 19, 2009 and
beyond. We only have 500 H1N1 doses to start, but we’ll be receiving shipments
regularly. We will book appointments for children to receive the doses that we
have on hand. Each child in a family needs to have an appointment to receive
the vaccine. Please review Tip #3 above to see if your child qualifies to
receive the nasal spray vaccine.
Tip #10. Should I/my child get it?Yes, you should get this vaccine. No, I’m not
worried about it at all.
Tip #11. Where do I get more info?For more info on the H1N1 vaccine, go to the
Centers for Disease Control website at cdc.gov. And, the state of Texas offers
flu updates if you call 211.
Tip #12. Why is the seasonal flu vaccine in short supply?Because flu vaccine manufacturers are
prioritizing the distribution of the H1N1 vaccine, many medical practices have not
received the bulk of their seasonal flu vaccine supply yet. The good news: The
U.S. is really only seeing the H1N1 strain of flu virus right now and the
“usual suspects” (our seasonal flu virus strains) have not arrived yet.
Understanding that may help lessen your frustration with your doctors’ office!
When it is available, you should get this vaccine, too.