H1N1 ‘swine flu’ vaccines available in Federal Way

Federal Way is one of four locations in King County that will have H1N1 vaccines available.

On Wednesday, the Federal Way Public Health Center first started vaccinations for people with the highest risk for complications.

The clinics opened at 8:30 a.m., and by 10:30 a.m., there were already 232 people vaccinated across the four sites, said Nicole Sadow-Hasenberg, spokeswoman for Public Health in Seattle and King County.

The clinics are for those who do not have health insurance.

The other locations are at the White Center Public Health Center, the Alder Square Public Health Center and the North Public Health Center.

“We have the vaccine,” Sadow-Hasenberg said. “We are anticipating the clinics going on for months.”

Currently, the clinics are for H1N1 (“swine flu”) vaccines, although most clinics do have the seasonal flu shot on hand, she said.

“We are monitoring (our supply levels) all the time,” Sadow-Hasenberg said. “New supplies will arrive.”

The clinics are opened for people up to age 64 who have significant health programs that put them at a greater risk for serious complications, including heart disease, lung disease, asthma, kidney disease, diabetes and HIV/AIDS.

People over age 65 are at low risk for H1N1 and are not encouraged to get vaccinated at this time.

The clinics are also not expecting a great deal of children and pregnant woman, as most of them are covered by private health care.

Local health providers have recieved small shipments of the vaccine for the existing patients who need protection. Those supplies are expected to go up in the next few weeks.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has already announced that the vaccine production is slower than expected. As of Oct. 14, the CDC reported it was about 2 million doses short of what had been ordered so far. There were close to 8 million doses ordered, but only 5.8 million had been shipped. Washington state had been shipped 75,600 doses by Oct. 16.

“It’s very difficult to predict exactly how many doses we’ll have in the weeks ahead... some of the manufacturers have let us know that the production of vaccine is likely to be a bit delayed in terms of the number of doses they were expecting to have out in future weeks,” Anne Schuchat of the CDC said in a press conference Oct. 16. “It doesn’t look like we’re going to be able to make those estimates that we had projected for the end of this month.”

Schuchat said the slow production was based on the complexity of the process.

Seasonal flu shot

The seasonal flu shot is also been hard to come by for many.

The CDC has reported that 82 million doses of the seasonal flu vaccine are available, but that 114 million doses will be needed. This is not the same as the H1N1 vaccine, but instead helps prevent the three most common types of influenza each year.

The flu that is going around now is the H1N1 flu, not seasonal flu, so there is still time to get a seasonal flu shot.

South King Fire and Rescue has been hit by the vaccine shortage. The department has been unable to get the seasonal flu vaccine from its normal supplier yet, Assistant Chief Ed Plumlee said. They do have the H1N1 vaccines. Plumlee said that in Canada, they are not recieving the seasonal flu shot until January because a study there found that those who took the seasonal flu shot were two times more likely to get H1N1.

“The seasonal flu isn’t out there yet,” Plumlee told fire commissioners in their meeting Monday. “It’s all H1N1. The department gets daily updates on the situation.”

He added that the department has a plan in place in case of an outbreak and plenty of supplies, with more on backorder.

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