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Vaccine push


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POSTED: Friday, November 06, 2009

About 75,000 children and at least 10,000 staff and faculty members have been vaccinated in this year's seasonal flu school clinics, and state health officials hope to see the turnout repeated in H1N1 school clinics starting next Friday.

“;My concern is, some parents may erroneously think (their children) will be completely protected with a seasonal flu shot,”; said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist and chief of the Health Department's Disease Control Division. “;They couldn't be more wrong.”;

Seasonal flu and H1N1 (swine flu) viruses are different, and vaccinations are needed for each one, she emphasized.

Hawaii's first allocation of 146,500 doses of H1N1 influenza vaccine is still trickling in, said Health Director Chiyome Fukino, adding that the health officials “;share everyone's frustration”; about not getting vaccine faster to the general public.

With some exceptions, such as people allergic to eggs, everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated as vaccine becomes available.

;[Preview]  FLU BRIEFING
 

State Health Officials Hope Enough Swine Flu Vaccines Arrive

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Park noted some criticism about pharmacies being among the first to get a vaccine supply but said they offer accessible hours and parking, especially for working people, and they can accommodate more vulnerable residents.

Forty-eight states are reporting widespread H1N1 activity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state health officials expect the surge to reach isle shores in a few weeks. The latest flu surveillance report “;suggests we're starting into that,”; Park said in a media update yesterday on the situation.

“;We're in the middle of a pandemic. We have a very dominant virus on the scene here. We don't know what it's going to do. Looking at previous viruses, they tend to come in waves,”; she said.

Hawaii has had 11 H1N1-associated deaths since May 5, including one child. All but one adult and the child had other medical conditions.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is releasing what is left in the national stockpile of Tamiflu Oral Suspension, a liquid antiviral for children. Hawaii is receiving its portion this week, Park said.

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The Health Department is working with Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children and the Healthcare Association of Hawaii to make sure the medicine is distributed to hospitals and community health centers to use for seriously ill children, Park said.

Children, especially those with chronic illness, and pregnant women are at the top of CDC's priority list for H1N1 vaccine, she said. Mainland reports indicate pregnant women with the virus “;decline very rapidly,”; she said, describing cases of severe respiratory illness and deaths.

Emergency responders, people who live with or care for children under 6 months old, children 6 months and older, adults under 25, and those 25 to 64 with chronic conditions are other priority groups for vaccine.

Children under 10 need two doses of H1N1 vaccine, and many doctors are suggesting that school-age kids get the first dose in the school clinics, Park said.

“;Our concern now is to get at least one dose into everyone—as many people as possible—then we can focus on the second one,”; she said. One dose will not give full immunity, but will lessen an illness, she said.

About 332 schools are participating in H1N1 clinics, compared with 343 for seasonal flu vaccine, she said. Fukino said 90,230 doses of vaccine were banked for the school clinics. If a school is not on the list, it opted out and cannot be accommodated now, she said.

For a list of H1N1 school clinics and other flu information, visit flu.hawaii.gov. The Food and Drug Administration has posted flu information for pregnant women: www.fda.gov.