Health Department expects more H1N1 vaccinations

Friday, October 23, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 11:00 a.m. CDT, Friday, October 23, 2009

COLUMBIA — Missouri is receiving fewer H1N1 vaccinations than state health officials expected, but the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services is not ready to say there is a shortage.

“It’s not as much as we want, but we’ll take it,” said Geni Alexander, public information officer at the Health Department. All the vaccinations being shipped to the county are being distributed immediately to health care providers.

Alexander said the department was told that shipments of the vaccine would begin in mid- or late October, but those shipments actually started early in the month.

“We got it sooner than we expected, but the quantities aren’t as high,” she said.

Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services expected to receive more than 800,000 doses of the vaccine but so far has received only about 170,000. Statewide there are some reports of counties running out of the vaccinations, department spokesman Kit Wagar said.

Another potential concern is the availability of a preservative-free vaccination for women who are pregnant. While there is not a shortage now, there could be if the state doesn’t receive more, Wagar said. He stressed that pregnant women need to see a doctor as soon as they suspect they're sick. Pregnancy depresses the immune system, making it easier to get sick.

Still, Missouri is receiving more doses every day, so there hasn’t been a widespread shortage, Wagar said.

“Eventually we will have enough," he said. "We are hoping to have everyone vaccinated by the time flu season peaks.”

People are encouraged to call their doctors to see if they can get the H1N1 vaccine. Although the state is emphasizing the priority groups first, providers can vaccinate more people at their discretion. The priority groups are children ages 6 months to 4 ; parents with children in this age range; pregnant women; children between 5 and 18 years old who have chronic medical conditions; and medical professionals with direct patient contact.

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