This has led many in the public to question the distribution system. Some have suggested that for the most part the only kids being vaccinated were the kids of doctors and nurses. Officials for their part are that the problem was the small quantity received and the need to get the vaccine to specific high risk groups. They are hopeful that the statewide distribution system problems will be rectified and a supply of vaccine will become available to the general population.
The Woodland Daily Democrat reported October 27:
Cheryl Boney, deputy director public health programs, said the county held a few clinics last week but word spread and Monday’s clinic saw the most number of attendees. The Health Department didn’t do any advertising, just communicating with local health care providers and letting the word spread like a virus.
This led to the charge by some that with the lack of advertising, the people who were able to get their children the shots were the children of health practitioners. They also point to the fact that other counties such as Sacramento, the clinics are more public, noticed, and open to all. However, part of this may be due to the fact that Sacramento has received proportionately more vaccine than Yolo County.
A large proportion of the vaccine went to Kaiser. One source informed the Vanguard that Kaiser (where I received my vaccine last week) received their quantity in exchange for health statistics on the flu outcomes. While this source did not question the deal, they did question Kaiser’s alleged practice that they were largely vaccinating children who had already had the flu.
The county sent out a press release Friday clarifying the status.
Dr. Joseph Iser, Yolo County Health Officer and Director said:
“Some healthcare providers in the community who have ordered Novel H1N1 vaccine have started to receive limited shipments of the vaccine or will be getting it soon. We want to encourage everyone to check with their doctor or regular medical provider if they want the vaccine.”
The county identified five high risk groups arguing it is important that people belonging to the groups identified as high risk for complications of severe illness get vaccinated earliest. The high risk groups include:
- Pregnant women
- People who live with or provide care for infants under six months of age
- Children and young adults between the ages of 6 months and 24 years
- Adults between the ages of 25 and 64 years who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk for flu related complications
- Healthcare and emergency medical services workers
It is possible that since first responders are on this list, that they may also be receiving priority. The Vanguard spoke by phone with Deputy Director Cheryl Boney late on Thursday who attempted to clarify the system and who has priority.
She told the Vanguard:
We’ve had two very small batches of vaccine delivered. The first batch that we got delivered was only flu mist. So that was only the nasal. We did some distribution of fliers through some of the clients that the county serves, especially the high risk population because the mist can only serve 2 to 49 year olds, who are healthy. We were trying to keep that to 2 to 10 year olds just because of the very limited doses that we had, so we mostly distributed that through our WIC clients.
Those vaccines went very quickly.
The second batch which we just received we’re keeping that just to pregnant women because its injectable so we can actually give that because the first batch we couldn’t give to pregnant women because they couldn’t take the nasal flu mist. They are the most high risk.
When asked about the priority, she informed the Vanguard:
“Obviously the pregnant women would be the highest risk. That’s who we would want to get it to first. But as I just said, the first batch of vaccine, they weren’t eligible for that. So then we went to the next eligible population. We also did try to get it to caretakers of children who are six months and younger because you can’t give vaccine to the six months and younger kids so you try to protect those around that child so then that child doesn’t get sick. Those are the three top populations–the pregnant women, the caretakers of those six months and younger, and then the two to ten.”
One of the big problems is that there is an unequal system delivering the supply to the counties, according to Ms. Boney the state is trying to rectify this system.
“There has been a lot of questions about the different amounts that different counties have gotten. The state has definitely recognized that and they are trying to make that more equitable by population. So they are trying to make sure deliveries will become more equitable in that way. Hopefully we’ll be getting much more vaccine in the future.”
The county is also working hard to establish a better information system using the internet and social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.
“We’re working on having a webpage and we have a Facebook page, a myspace page, and also a Twitter account, so people can sign up for that, so as we’re getting our webpage up we’ll be sending our notices out so that anyone who is signed up can get that information. We’ll send out press releases once we have the vaccine available to the public so we’re trying to think about how we’ll get that out as much as possible once we have the larger supplies.”
It is important for the public to understand that the County Health Department currently does not have any Novel H1N1 vaccine available for the public. According to the press release, as shipments continue to arrive, public availability through the Health Department will be posted on the website at www.yolohealth.org. Individuals can sign up on the page to be notified when changes are made, which will include availability of vaccine.
—David M. Greenwald reporting