The Madison County Health Department should still have plenty H1N1 nasal spray vaccine in stock, according to one public health official.
Steven Dumpert, with the Northeast Georgia Health District, said turnout among Madison Countians for the vaccine has been low.
“So I expect that there is plenty,” he said.
And that goes for the rest of the area.
“I have not heard anything indicating that we are even close to running out in any of the clinics,” Dumpert said.
The Madison County Health Department received about 100 doses earlier this month. The nasal vaccine was initially offered for 2-4-year-olds, but the age restriction no longer applies.
“So anyone who wants the nasal spray, can get the nasal spray,” Dumpert said.
Dumpert said there is some concern among the public that the nasal vaccine will lead to the flu since it is injected live into the body. The vaccine is chemically treated to not be infectious, but one side effect is a mild fever, which may lead H1N1 vaccine recipients to believe they have the flu.
“The fever that’s a result of side effects from the vaccination — essentially the immune response fever — is not nearly as high as the fever that’s experienced by flu,” Dumpert said. “Any side effect issue that you would feel is minor compared to complications that the flu can actually cause.”
Meanwhile, the injection form of the vaccine should reach the Madison County Health Department within weeks. Dumpert said the H1N1 shot is in the allotment process.
“So we are still waiting for orders to be filled, and we do expect that within the next couple of weeks,” he said.
Dumpert isn’t sure exactly how many shots will be available.
“No, though I have seen some numbers that suggest an allotment larger than the nasal spray,” he said.
Dumpert expects the allotment of injections to be trickled in small parts every week, rather than one lump dumped on each state. That’s due to limited storage space at the clinics.
“If we have a storage problem, we essentially have vaccine we can’t use,” Dumpert said. “And that would be a problem.”
As for the seasonal flu, all the area clinics have run out of that vaccine. The need for H1N1 vaccine caused manufacturers to cease production of the standard flu vaccine. The same manufacturer is producing both vaccines.
It will convert its production lines back to seasonal flu in order for local health departments to be stocked by early November.
“Because by November, we should be approaching the beginning of our standard flu season,” Dumpert said.
The main concern among public health officials is that everyone get the H1N1 vaccine since a very low percentage of the population is immune to it.
“This is the flu that is more than likely going to make this flu season much more severe if people don’t get vaccinated,” Dumpert said.