Iowa has received its first shipment of the vaccine for the H1N1 flu virus. The 18,000 doses of vaccine are being delivered to county public health agencies. Iowa Department of Public Health spokesperson Polly Carver-Kimm says the initial shipment is in the form of a nasal spray.
“There are certain populations that can’t receive the nasal spray, but we do have additional vaccine arriving in the coming weeks on an intermittent basis and we do expect the injectable vaccine next week,” Carver-Kimm said. The vaccine is being divided among the 99 counties in Iowa based on population. Polk County, for example, is receiving about 1,300 doses. Because there’s a limited supply of the vaccine right now, only people in high risk groups will be eligible to receive the spray.
Carver-Kimm says those “high priority” groups include healthy people between two and 49 years of age who live with or care for infants, health care workers under the age of 50 and children between the ages of two and four. The nasal spray version of the H1N1 vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women, people with chronic health problems or children under the age of two. The flu bug has been spreading through many Iowa businesses and schools in recent weeks. Carver-Kimm says it appears nearly all of the cases are associated with H1N1.
“The seasonal influenza season doesn’t really begin for another month of so,” Carver-Kimm said. “The testing that has been done on a surveillance basis has shown that all of the flu that’s circulating now is H1N1. We’re seeing a lot of that in the schools. A lot of schools are reporting more than 10-percent absence of their enrollment.” Four Iowans have died this year from complications associated with the H1N1 virus. Carver-Kimm says people who are interested in getting an H1N1 vaccination should call their county health department for details on distribution.