H1N1 vaccine on the way but in short supply

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The H1N1 virus continues to spread across Alabama.  The state health department confirmed three more people have died from it.

The deaths are a man in Talladega county, a woman in Madison county, and another woman in Jackson county.

All victims were 50 or older.   11 Alabamians have died so far from H1N1.

With the rising death toll, the state is again urging everyone to get vaccinated.

The state started taking requests this week.  But officials say there's only so many nasal spray vaccines to go around.

So far they have more than one million doses of the vaccine requested.

But the state is only getting about 26,500 doses in the first round.

"What we're going to be getting in this first phase is very small quantities," says State Health Officer, Dr. Don Williamson.

If you're ready for an injection of the H1N1 vaccine, you may have to wait a little longer.

State health officials say the vaccine is on its way.  In fact some doses of the nasal spray will be in Alabama next week.

"Most people will not be able to access the vaccine," says Williamson.

He says it could be a few weeks before the vaccine is widely available in local clinics.

State health officials are targeting large institutions like universities and hospitals first.

"Maximize the coverage with a very small amount of vaccines," adds Williamson.

That's why nurses like Gwendolyn Mann at Alabama State University are making their requests.

"I did let them know that if they would come up with a vaccine to please notify me," she says.

Mann says she's seen an increase in flu-like symptoms at the school's clinic.

She hopes to receive about 250 doses.

"If they want it, it's available," she says.

And while ASU, and other schools wait to see if they'll get any of the doses, students at Auburn Montgomery have mixed feelings about the vaccine.

"I would probably take advantage of it because I don't want to be sick," says one student.

"I would probably not take the vaccine because I take preventative measures not to get sick," says another student.

Injectable vaccines are still a few weeks away.

Doctor Williamson says the state could start seeing as many as 600,000 of them by the end of the month.

And by November, smaller clinics, doctors offices and school nurses should have them.

Right now nasal spray vaccine use is limited.

Williamson says pregnant women, and people over 49 can't use it.

He hopes to have 2 million doses of the injectable vaccine by the end of the year.

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