H1N1 vaccine supply in Texas lower than expected

Posted on 08 Jan 2009 at 4:14pm
By David Taffet | Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Texas Department if State Health Services said the supply of the vaccine for H1N1 flu virus, also called the swine flu, is low and will trickle in over the next few weeks.

The first doses received in Dallas are going to health care workers. Eventually, Texas is expected to receive 15 million doses.

FluMist is more readily available. Do not take the mist if you have a compromised immune system, have asthma or are over the age of 50. The mist is most effect in children.

Do not get a flu shot if you allergic to eggs.

Dr. Gary Sinclair, medical director Parkland/UT Southwestern HIV services, encourages everyone, especially those in higher risk groups, to be vaccinated but said media is causing unnecessary panic over H1N1 flu. He said the swine flu is turning out to be an extremely contagious but very mild flu.

“Twice as many people are contracting it but half are dying from it,” Sinclair said.

He said that as many as 70,000 people die every year from flu and he expects that number to be less than half this year. Many of those deaths will be among people who have other underlying health issues.

Originally, Texas expected 3.4 million doses of the vaccine by mid-October. Only 1.7 million will be available by then.

The seasonal flu shot is widely available and is needed in addition to the H1N1 vaccine.

Sinclair said that if the seasonal strain hits, it could be more serious than the H1N1 flu virus.

Because the H1N1 vaccine was rushed to market, there have been concerns about its safety. Sinclair said that the vaccine is safe and really not new. Flu vaccines given each year are the same with lines changed to attack the particular strains prevalent that year.

Texas health commissioner David Lakey’s best advice to deal with the flu is to cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands often and stay home if sick.

To receive medical guidance over the phone, Texas has set up a health information line. Dial 2-1-1 to speak to a medical professional about managing flu symptoms and advice on seeking medical care or going to an emergency room. After choosing a language, press 6 for flu information.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough and sore throat that come on suddenly. Most flu can be treated at home with fluids, medication for fever and rest. People with HIV, a compromised immune system or other underlying health problems should contact a physician.

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