Monday, October 26, 2009

Update on Flu vacines in parts of Portland Metro area

The H1N1 vaccine remains in short supply nationwide due to delays by manufacturers producing the vaccine.

In the Portland area, the delays mean some public clinics have been canceled. Other clinics are offering only a limited number of doses. The small amounts currently available are being targeted toward children under five years of age and pregnant women, who are six times more likely to die from H1N1. Some counties are also reaching out to school children.

The production delay has led CDC officials to revise downward their vaccine delivery targets by 25 percent through the end of October. CDC officials say the revision reflects the unpredictability of the manufacturing process, which involved growing the virus in chicken eggs. Two manufacturers achieved smaller yields from this process than they had projected.

Health officials continue to expect that shipments will ramp up and availability of the vaccine will increase.

Shipments arriving in the Portland metro area this week will be about the same size as last week’s batch. Here is the rough breakdown of what is expected here:

County Doses
Clackamas 3,100
Multnomah 6,000
Washington 4,500

Earlier this month marked the first time that some clinics received injectable vaccine, which contains a H1N1 virus that has been “inactivated” or killed.

Until now, the only form of vaccine available was the FluMist nasal spray. Because FluMist contains a live flu virus, it is only appropriate for healthy people age 2 to 49. Pregnant women and children under age 2 need the injectable vaccine, which contains virus that has been “inactivated” or killed.

From Sept. 1 throught Oct. 21 , a total of 449 people in Oregon were hospitalized and 15 died from Influenza A virus. Not all of these patients were tested for H1N1, but nationally nearly all samples that have been laboratory sub-typed in recent weeks were H1N1.

All Influenza A cases, Sept. 1 through Oct. 21
County Hospitalizations Deaths
Clackamas 46 0
Clark and Region IV 15 0
Columbia 0 0
Multnomah 62 1
Washington 54 0

Schools throughout the region report seeing an increase of absences due to influenza-like illness.

Oregon has now adopted a temporary rule allowing some emergency medical technicians and paramedics to administer flue vaccine to the general public. Before, EMTs could only vaccinate other EMTs. Clark County, Wash., adopted similar rules.

State and county epidemiologists are monitoring school absences and reports of hospitalizations to track the spread of the virus.

Public information officers regionally are pooling information and coordinating availability of key spokesperons in response to requests from news organizations.

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