October 16, 2009

Medical Center gets its first swine flu vaccines

A small number of H1N1, or swine flu, vaccines have been made available to the U of C Medical Center for health care workers and pregnant women, following Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

There does not appear to be an urgent need for the vaccine at the University yet, as there have not been any clustered outbreaks of flu-like symptoms in the campus community, according to University spokesman Steve Kloehn.

Kloehn said there is no way of knowing when the vaccine will be more generally available on campus because the CDC distributes the vaccine as it becomes available, not on a planned schedule. He would not specify how many doses the Medical Center has received.

“They are on order,” Kloehn said of further doses of the vaccine. “There’s no way of knowing the timing. The CDC...predicts that eventually, anyone who wants the vaccine will get it.”

He added that it will take five days for the University to set up a vaccination clinic after it receives a large enough shipment of H1N1 doses. A University press release said vaccines will only be administered through such a clinic and not through the Student Care Center.

The Medical Center received 1,000 doses of children’s vaccine last week, which have been administered to pediatric outpatients.

The CDC, as well as state and local officials, controls the distribution of the swine flu vaccine.

The Medical Center will administer the vaccine according to CwDC protocol, which prioritizes pregnant women and infant caretakers, followed by health care workers and those between six months and 24 years old. Finally, those between 24 and 64 years of age who have certain conditions predisposing them to flu complications will receive the vaccine.

According to the CDC’s web site, the federal government has ordered 250 million doses of the vaccine, which means anyone who wants one will eventually have a chance to get it.

“Because the premium is on getting a safe vaccine out as quickly as possible, they’re shipping it out as quick as they get it,” Kloehn said. Local newspapers around the country are reporting the arrival of small amounts of vaccine.

“Because the very smallest amount has begun to be distributed, we hope that larger distribution will begin soon,” Kloehn said.