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Nov 17, 2009 4:37 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Swine flu vaccines hard to come by

Nov 17, 2009 4:37 PM

Governor David Paterson recently issued a state of emergency that expanded the number of medical providers who can administer the H1N1 influenza vaccine, but local medical centers have received few—if any—doses of the vaccines to administer.

Southampton Hospital spokeswoman Marsha Kenny said this week that the hospital received a “limited” supply of the vaccine late last month. That supply was used to vaccinate staff in the maternity ward and emergency room and administered to at-risk patients, including pregnant women and patients with immune system disorders. Ms. Kenny said the hospital received enough to inoculate only certain hospital employees.

“We don’t have a sufficient supply to cover all our employees,” she said. “We do expect more supplies, but we don’t know how many or when they will be received.”

Suffolk County, meanwhile, has also received vaccines and is administering them at county clinics and programs, according to Suffolk County Health Department spokeswoman Grace McGovern. The county last week received 6,700 vaccines that were slated for those who are at the highest risk: pregnant women, those taking care of infants 6 months or younger, children who are between 6 months and 24 years of age, health care workers, and emergency medical services personnel. Additionally, individuals between 25 and 64 who have medical conditions that place them at a higher risk—including cancer, blood disorders, chronic lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disorders, liver disorders, neurological disorders, neuromuscular disorders and weakened immune systems—can qualify for a vaccination.

Half of the 6,700 vaccines were to be distributed to county clinics and programs, and the other half at point of dispensing stations throughout the county for those who call the county’s hotline—(631) 787-2200—to set up an appointment for a vaccination.

The county has received 8,300 vaccines in total since October 5.

Ms. McGovern said the county is administering the vaccines to at-risk individuals who are unable to obtain it from their doctor. “We have seven people working the phone lines,” Ms. McGovern said. “We’re getting many, many calls.”

Ms. McGovern said this week that originally the county had asked for 25,000 vaccines but was unable to receive the whole supply.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is saying the manufacturers have had a tough time growing the vaccine, so it’s taking a little longer than they thought,” Ms. McGovern said. As for private doctors, Ms. McGovern suggested that they apply online through the state to obtain the free vaccine.

In the meantime, the H1N1 flu has become so widespread throughout New York and Suffolk County that health officials have ceased keeping track of numbers of cases, Ms. McGovern said. There have been eight deaths so far in the county relating to swine flu, with the most recent death in early August.

“Some people get sick, stay home and get better,” Ms. McGovern said. “Some people don’t even know if what they had was H1N1.”

The state of emergency declared by Governor Paterson expands the number of individuals permitted to administer the vaccine after receiving training. This list includes physician assistants and medical assistants, pharmacists, dentists, certain dental hygienists, midwives and emergency medical personnel.

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Remember to wah your hands after going out in public and get some waterless hand cleaner for those times you can't wash your hands in a sink.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Nov 12, 09 9:26 AM
shortage of flu shots and these morons want to run the health care system for the country? we are screwed big time!!!!!!!
By americanivory (7), east hampton on Nov 14, 09 4:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
Funny the big boys on Wall Street got there's
These fools are running health care !!!!
What a joke!!!!!
We getting screwed
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Nov 15, 09 1:29 AM
A shortage of flu shots ,but the Pentagon saw the need to make sure that the detainees at Guantanamo GOT THEIIR FLU SHOTS FIRST, I think someone has their priorities all screwed up would you say ,CRAZY ISN'T IT
By shock (70), whb on Nov 15, 09 2:58 PM