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H1N1 Vaccine Deliveries Begin Early Doses to Arrive This Week
  By David Mitchell
The first wave of vaccine against the novel influenza A (H1N1) virus is expected to be delivered to vaccinators beginning the week of Oct. 5-9, according to Anne Schuchat, M.D., director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
Schuchat said in an Oct. 1 media briefing that 25 state and local public health agencies placed initial orders for 600,000 doses of the vaccine as of Sept. 30, and CDC officials expected the remaining states to place initial orders within the next few days.
CDC to Provide Weekly Updates
Schuchat also said the agency plans to give weekly updates on the amount of vaccine available for ordering and how much is shipped to each state or large city. Those updates are to be given every Friday, she said, through media briefings and/or postings on the CDC's Web site.
"We're starting a little bit slow," she said, "but we wanted to start as soon as possible. More and more doses will be becoming available out to the sites, and this is the beginning."
Schuchat said the early shipments of H1N1 vaccine will be the nasal spray formulation, which is the live, attenuated influenza vaccine, or LAIV. That vaccine can be given to healthy, nonpregnant individuals ages 2-49 years.
"We believe that a lot of the states will be directing these early doses to health care workers," she said. "There's a bit of a myth out there that the workers shouldn't get the live vaccine, but that's a myth. Most health care workers who are under 50 and don't have chronic conditions can receive the nasal spray."
McKesson Will Take Distribution Lead
The CDC announced in August that it had expanded its partnership with McKesson Corp. to include centralized distribution of the H1N1 flu vaccine.
McKesson, a health care services and information technology company based in San Francisco, already distributes vaccines for the CDC, including those disseminated through the Vaccines for Children program.
Anna Buxbaum, McKesson's corporate public relations manager, told AAFP News Now the company will deliver vaccines and ancillary supplies to as many as 90,000 vaccination sites nationwide, making it the largest public health initiative in CDC history.
Buxbaum said physicians interested in providing the H1N1 vaccine should contact their state immunization program administrators because state agencies are determining who will participate in the initiative. Those agencies are placing orders with the CDC on behalf of vaccine providers. CDC officials will review the information before forwarding it to McKesson, which will fill the orders and deliver them directly to the sites.
Buxbaum stressed that McKesson plays no role in determining which vaccine providers will get the H1N1 vaccine. She added that physicians do not have to have a pre-existing business relationship with McKesson to be involved in the H1N1 immunization program.
According to Buxbaum, McKesson handles one-third of the pharmaceutical products in North America. To maintain smooth flow of its regular services while also expediting delivery of H1N1 vaccines and supplies, the company has opened six new distribution centers dedicated to the H1N1 initiative, she said.
The CDC reported that as of Sept. 26, 27 states were reporting widespread influenza activity, and 18 were reporting regional activity.
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