Oklahoma State Department of Health prepares for swine flu vaccinations
BY KIM ARCHER World Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The Oklahoma State Department of Health sent out an advisory to more than 11,000 physicians and medical providers to find out who wants to provide swine flu shots when the vaccine is ready.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re trying to be prepared,” said Ken Cadaret, director of field operations for the agency’s immunization services.
Within a few hours of the advisory’s transmission, the department had 60 responses. Many of them came from providers with multiple sites, he said.
“They represent many more than 60 providers,” Cadaret said. “Our anticipation is that we will get very strong support.”
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated a vaccine could be available for the novel virus by mid-October. It is undergoing trials across the country for safety and efficacy.
But there is no firm idea on how much vaccine will be available at that time.
“It will not come to us in one big mass of vaccines all at once,” Cadaret said.
If small amounts of vaccine are distributed to the state, they likely will first be directed at the five target groups identified by the CDC.
“We know H1N1 is adversely affecting people the seasonal flu normally doesn’t,” Cadaret said.
Those groups are pregnant women, young people ages 6 months to 24 years, health-care workers, household contacts of children younger than 6 months, and adults ages 25 to 64 with underlying chronic diseases.
Providers were asked for an idea of how much vaccine they would need, where it should be delivered, their office hours, and what subgroups of patients might fall into one of the target groups.
“We’re moving on this as fast as we can because we need to know for planning purposes,” Cadaret said. “We’re trying to make sure every physician is aware of it.”
In addition, the Health Department has discontinued reporting single cases of swine flu, focusing instead of severity of illness and deaths.
The Web site information will be more like a “snapshot,” revealing whether flu activity is increasing or decreasing and identifying locations where more flu is seen, according to the agency’s Web site.
The Health Department sent another advisory last week updating the CDC’s recommendation about how long people should stay home after experiencing flulike symptoms.
The CDC now recommends that people with flulike illness should stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit is gone. That differs from the previous guidance that people should remain home for seven days after illness onset or 24 hours after symptoms are gone.