Thursday, Sep. 24, 2009

When will I be able to get the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccines?

The CDC expects 3.4 million doses of the 2009 H1N1 vaccine to begin shipping on Oct. 1. Most of this first wave of vaccines will consist of the nasal-spray variety, which contains the weakened live H1N1 flu virus and is recommended for healthy people ages 2 to 49. Pregnant women, the elderly and those with chronic health conditions should get the injectable vaccine, which contains the inactive virus and is expected to be widely available within the first two weeks of October.

As the flu season progresses, five vaccinemakers will churn out 20 million additional doses each week until the government's goal of 251 million doses is reached. Every day, state health officials will collect additional vaccine requests from doctors, hospitals, retail pharmacies and other providers — 90,000 in all — and forward them to the CDC, which will distribute vaccines through McKesson, a San Francisco-based medical and pharmaceutical distribution company. McKesson has dedicated six new facilities — two in Ohio and one each in California, Tennessee, Georgia and Texas — to handling the receipt and shipment of the H1N1 vaccine, along with additional supplies such as syringes, needles and sharps-disposal kits, also provided free by the government.