Vaccines to arrive in 1 or 2 weeks

Published 9:15 am Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Though local health officials do not know the exact day the first round of H1N1 vaccines will arrive in Freeborn County, they estimate they will arrive within the next week or two.

Minnesota Department of Health spokesman Doug Schultz said the first doses of the vaccine were shipped directly to various health care institutions in the state on Monday.

Schultz said it is unclear how many doses are in the state, but he expects the shipments will continue for a few days. Minnesota is getting an initial allocation of 28,000 doses.

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The vaccines, a weakened live virus vaccine in the form of a nasal spray, will be administered to health care and emergency medical workers, or those who are at highest risk to be exposed to the virus, said Freeborn County Public Health nurse Sue Yost on Monday.

A Minnesota Department of Health news release states these workers could expose medically vulnerable patients to the virus if they get sick, and there could be a significant impact on the health care system if they get sick and have to miss work.

“By administering the vaccine first to health care and emergency medical workers, we are helping to ensure that our health care system is in good shape to care for Minnesotans who become ill,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Sanne Magnan in the release. “Allocating this initial supply of vaccine to health care and emergency medical workers is consistent with the CDC’s recommendations.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 150 million doses of the vaccine will ultimately be available throughout the country, according to the release.

However, because the vaccine will be distributed to states in various quantities over the coming weeks, those at highest risk of complications from the novel H1N1 influenza will be targeted to receive the vaccine first.

High-risk people include pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age, health care and emergency medical services personnel, people between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old, and people between the ages of 25 and 64 years of age who are at higher risk for H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems, the release states.

Yost said because this initial nasal spray is a live vaccine, it cannot be given to pregnant women. They will need to wait until the shot is available. However, those who work with pregnant women, including obstetricians and staff, will be able to take it.

The other problem with the nasal vaccination is that it is only good for people ages 2 to 49, she said. Anyone older cannot be given it, and anyone with chronic health conditions also cannot receive it.

Yost said she did not know how many of the nasal spray vaccines Freeborn County would be receiving or when the shot would be available.

“It’s changing moment by moment,” she said.

When asked whether there have been any confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus in Freeborn County, she said it is hard to determine unless the patients have gone through specific testing. This lab work can be expensive.

Minnesota Department of Health officials continue to urge Minnesotans to get the seasonal flu vaccine.

For more information about the seasonal flu, visit

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.