State health officials expect to receive an initial shipment of at least 838,000 doses of swine flu vaccine by late October with additional dosages expected to arrive weekly, they’ve told local health officers.
Indiana is set to receive about 2 percent of the nation’s production of the vaccine, based on its population. If total production reaches the 195 million doses the government has ordered by December, Indiana’s share would be more than 4 million doses, enough for about a third of Indiana’s population of 6.38 million people. Most people are expected to need two doses given three weeks apart.
The World Health Organization declared a swine flu pandemic, or global outbreak, in June, and it is expected to make a strong return in the fall and winter. State health officials say so far it has killed four people in Indiana and sickened more than 300.
A presidential advisory panel said in a report Monday that it was “plausible” the U.S. later this year would have large-scale swine flu infections, possibly with 30,000 to 90,000 deaths, mostly among young children and young adults.
Indiana Immunization Director Wayne Fischer, during a webcast for local health officials Monday, cautioned that several variables could affect the total number of doses produced. The Associated Press was able to watch the webcast in which local health officials were shown a slide indicating Indiana’s share of a production run of 40 million doses would be 838,800.
Jennifer Dunlap, a spokeswoman for the Indiana State Department of Health, said the agency did not know for sure from the CDC how much vaccine Indiana will receive or when.
“It’s really difficult to tell at this point,” Dunlap said. “We don’t know how much or when. They’re looking at mid-October, but that’s as specific as they’ll get.” Dunlap said.
The vaccine will be distributed to the state’s 92 counties based on their populations, she said.
The lack of solid information has challenged local health departments as they plan vaccination clinics and other efforts, said John Althardt, a spokesman for the Marion County Health Department in Indianapolis.
“There certainly are more questions now than there are answers,” Althardt said. “In an ideal world, it would be helpful to know how much vaccine we will have and when that vaccine will be arriving.”
The CDC estimates 45 million to 52 million doses will be available by mid October, with as much as 1.09 million going to Indiana, Fischer said.
Vaccine makers are expected to turn out an additional 10 million to 20 million doses per week after that, Jim Howell, the assistant state health commissioner for public health and preparedness, said during the webcast.
“They’re predicting the pipeline will get full very quickly,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends certain high-risk groups get priority in receiving the vaccine: pregnant women; people living with or caring for children younger than 6 months; health care and emergency medical services workers; all people ages 6 months through 24 years; and people ages 25 through 64 years with certain chronic conditions.
The vaccine is free, but doctors and clinics can charge a fee for administering it, said Dr. Davis Ellis of Rush County, one of a group of local health officers who’ve met regularly with Health Commissioner Judy Monroe about swine flu.
Many if not all counties already have received their seasonal flu vaccine and will begin flu shot clinics in early October. The CDC has said the seasonal flu vaccine is not expected to provide protection against swine flu.
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