The Doctors Next Door

A Shortage of H1N1 Vaccine...Now What?

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The health department in my county ran out of the H1N1 vaccine after the first vaccination clinic. On one hand, this is a good sign because people showed up for the vaccination. On the other hand, there are still some high-risk folks who aren't yet vaccinated.

 

The originally scheduled fifteen additional clinics were cancelled until more H1N1 vaccine is received.

 

Why isn't there more H1N1 vaccine available?

 

The answer is multifactorial, but the one reason I find most interesting is that the H1N1 virus is slow. Yes, it is spread quickly amongst us humans, but it grows slowly in the lab. In order to make a flu vaccine, the virus is grown in eggs. (By the way, this explains why the flu vaccine cannot be given to those with an anaphylactic reaction to eggs.) The H1N1 virus was expected to grow just like our seasonal flu virus, but it's growing at only about 1/4 to 1/3 of the rate. What a slow-poke.

 

Not only did the H1N1 virus grow slowly in the eggs, it also failed its initial potency tests, meaning that even larger quantities of the virus would be needed to make the vaccine.

 

Last week, the CDC assured us that millions of doses are on their way and public health authorities on all levels are working hard to get the vaccine out as soon as possible. Continue to check the website for your county's public health department for the most up-to-date information.

 

Remember, for now, the CDC recommends to vaccinate those at higher-risk for complications from H1N1. The five priority groups are:

  1. Pregnant women
  2. Persons between the ages of 6 months to 24 years old
  3. People who live with or care for a child younger than 6 months old
  4. Persons between 25 years to 64 years old with chronic medical conditions
  5. Healthcare personnel

 

In the meantime, what can you do to avoid getting or spreading H1N1?

 

First, if you have flu-like symptoms, it's essential that you prevent spreading the infection to others, especially those high-risk people for whom the flu can be very serious. And how do you avoid spreading the flu? Remember the 3-C's.

 

Cover your Cough

 

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Just look at what happens if you don't cover your sneeze or cough!  Since the flu is spread via infected respiratory droplets, it is important to cover your cough and sneeze. Don't cough or sneeze into your hand because it's easier to spread the germs by touching things. Instead, cough into your elbow or use a tissue.

 

 

 

Clean your Hands

 

Wash your hands thoroughly after coughing and sneezing. If you don't have any soap and water, the alcohol-based gels will work.

 

Contain Illness

 

If you are sick, stay home so you don't spread the infection to others. It is recommended that those with the flu stay home until fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.

 

Chicken Soup

 

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Yes, I've slipped a fourth "C" into the 3-C's. There actually is some evidence to suggest that chicken soup helps with mucociliary clearance, meaning those little hairs in the upper respiratory system can do a better job getting rid of that yucky mucus. A nice bowl of mom's homemade chicken soup just might help!

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8 Comments

cubsfan said:

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Dr. B, I think it's great that the Chicago Tribune Fan Shop is advertising Cubs wear right next to your blog!!!

Dr. Brenda said:

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Dear Cubsfan,

Thanks for being an astute reader and bringing this to my attention. I hadn't noticed it myself and it was indeed an advertising mix-up. This ad was supposed to run with my article on how wearing certain clothes can adversely affects one's health and well-being. Our advertising department apologizes for the mistake and assures me that they will correct it immediately.

Thanks again,

Dr. Brenda

John D said:

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Dr. Brenda - I'm a new blogger and want to thank you for leading by example. Your stories are very compelling. I might need to come to you for advice on topic ideas. Keep up the great work.

Dr. Brenda said:

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Dear John D,

Thank you for your kind words. I've enjoyed reading your blog and am impressed. I would never have guessed you were a new blogger. Best wishes for continued successful blogging!

Dr. Brenda

cubsfan said:

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That Iowa Hawkeye jack-o-lantern should be smashed...just the way the football Hawkeyes were last Saturday!

Dr. Brenda said:

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Dear Cubsfan,

Well, we certainly don't agree on our baseball teams, but I'm pleasantly surprised to see that you, too, are a Smashing Pumpkins fan. I went to a high school dance with their lead singer, Billy Corgan, but I don't recall their song about a hawkeye...

Dr. Brenda

John D said:

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Dr. Brenda - I saw the Smashing Pumpkins in Iowa City at Gabe's Oasis in the early '90 before they hit it big. Billy Corgan is a huge Cubs' fan...so it would have never worked out for you guys.

John D said:

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Dr. Brenda - I saw the Smashing Pumpkins in Iowa City at Gabe's Oasis in the early '90 before they hit it big. Billy Corgan is a huge Cubs' fan...so it would have never worked out for you guys.

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