Polk County Health Department, like all other health agencies around the country, must adjust its plans for distributing the H1N1 vaccine because of a significantly smaller supply than what was originally projected.
Following the guidance of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices (ACIP), Polk County Health will temporarily limit access to the vaccine to the federally designated priority groups who are most at risk for severe illness or complications if contracting the H1N1 influenza:
- pregnant women,
- people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age,
- health care and emergency medical services personnel with direct patient contact (i.e. diagnosing and treating patients with flu-like illness or direct contact with patients at high risk for influenza),
- children 6 months through 4 years of age, and
- children 5 through 18 years of age who have chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, lung or heart disease, chronic liver or kidney disease, or are immune-compromised because of cancer treatment or HIV.
As long as the supply of vaccine remains unpredictable, the additional restrictions will remain in effect. We are hopeful much-larger shipments will come in the next few weeks and the restriction will be lifted and vaccine dispensing will resume to the broader groups including: 18- to 24-year-olds, healthcare workers with direct patient-care responsibilities, and people ages 25 through 64 who are at higher risk because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.
It is very early in the vaccination program. We still expect to have a large number of doses in the coming months and eventually anyone who wants be to be vaccinated will be able to be vaccinated but the next couple of weeks will continue to be a slow start. We are asking the public to be patient as H1N1 vaccine arrives over the next weeks.