TALLAHASSEE — Health departments across the state Thursday began receiving the first shipments of the H1N1 vaccine.
As of Thursday night, Manatee County was still waiting on its order of about 1,700 doses of the vaccine, expected in the next few days. The vaccine will be in the nasal mist form, said Ronald Cox, Manatee County Health Department’s director of epidemiology.
Health department officials met with Manatee school district representatives Thursday to discuss how the district will help distribute the first batch to students and staff members, Cox said. A plan had not been finalized but it’s possible that will happen today, he said.
As of Oct. 6, 109 Floridians had died from H1N1 and more than 800 people had been hospitalized statewide.
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State Surgeon General Ana Viamonte Ros, during a press conference Thursday with Gov. Charlie Crist, said only about 2 percent of emergency room visits this time of year are flu-related. However, she said the current figure is 7 percent, with most of those cases involving H1N1 in people age 19 and younger.
The state so far has ordered 100,000 doses of the nasal mist, recommended for people ages 2-49.
Jefferson County and St. Johns counties were the first two counties to receive their orders Thursday.
The vaccine shipments are being sent to county health departments that are responsible to make sure they go to providers to treat priority groups, including household caregivers for children less than 6 months old, health care providers, people 6 months to 24 years of age and those ages 25-64 with medical conditions.
Pregnant woman are also on the priority group list, but Ros said doctors do not recommend they take the nasal mist vaccine.
“Future allotments will have the injectable vaccine which is recommended for pregnant women,” Ros said.
The nasal mist vaccine will continue to arrive at counties during the next several days, state officials said. Because the shipments are being delivered via Fed Ex, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when each county will receive them, state officials said,
Each week the CDC will provide the state with a new allocation, Ros said.
“Clinical trials have shown adults and kids over 10 need only one vaccination,” Ros said. “Trials so far testing it have gone very well and the safety is very similar to the (seasonal) flu vaccine.”
Gov. Crist said Floridians should remember to use common sense precautions including washing their hands, using hand sanitizer and staying home if they are sick.