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No general H1N1 vaccination yet


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POSTED: Friday, December 11, 2009

About 14 states or cities such as Denver and Boulder, Colo., have extended H1N1 influenza (swine flu) vaccinations from priority groups to the general public, but Hawaii is not ready for that yet, says state Health Director Chiyome Fukino.

She said the demand for vaccine fell off in mainland areas now offering vaccinations to anyone who wants them, but the demand in Hawaii is greater than the vaccine supply.

And some of the priority groups for H1N1 vaccinations, particularly college-age youths from 19 to 24 years, are slow to get them, reports indicate.

The state Health Department is pushing residents in priority groups to get vaccinated to help prevent the spread of H1N1 influenza in the islands.

The priority groups encompass people considered the most vulnerable for complications from H1N1 influenza, such as pregnant women.

Several pregnant women in Hawaii have ended up in hospital intensive care units because of pneumonia triggered by H1N1, said Dr. Tod Aeby, chief of the Generalist Division in the John A. Burns School of Medicine's Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women's Health, part of the University of Hawaii.

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They recovered, and the babies “;managed to do well,”; but 28 pregnant women on the mainland have died from H1N1 influenza, Aeby said, stressing the importance of vaccinations.

He said the medical school has 300 doses of H1N1 vaccine available for pregnant women who fill out a request form available at www.hsblinks.com/1i8.

The school will contact applicants to schedule appointments to receive the vaccine. There is no cost for those with HMSA health insurance. For others the charge is $7.

The medical school also is holding a free H1N1 Vaccine Clinic from 1 to 2 p.m. today in Room 314 with vaccine from the HOME (Homeless Outreach and Medical Education) project the students run under Dr. Jill Omori.

People eligible for the vaccine include those in the H1N1 priority groups—those from 6 months to 24 years old, those from 25 to 64 years old with a chronic disease, health care or emergency services workers with direct patient contact, and those living an infant under 6 months old.

H1N1 influenza activity has decreased across the country but has remained “;pretty stable”; in Hawaii, said Fukino, reporting a low level of influenza activity here with H1N1 the dominant strain. But both Fukino and Aeby pointed out that the virus is unpredictable.

“;Our goal is to suppress it by appropriate prevention,”; Fukino said.

For more information see flu.hawaii.gov.