NJ to get swine flu vaccines in next week

September 30, 2009 11:42:03 AM PDT
New Jersey is set to start receiving its first shipment of swine flu vaccine next week, Health Commissioner Heather Howard said Tuesday. The first vaccines will be in the form of nasal mist, which is only recommended for healthy people between the age 2 and 49 who are not pregnant. Injectable H1N1 vaccines are expected to follow in staggered shipments.

Howard said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has assured her there will be enough vaccine for everyone who wants it.

"So far, we have seen more influenza-like activity that we normally do in September. This is not unexpected. This is a cause for concern, but not a cause for alarm," Howard said.

Seventeen people - three of them children - in New Jersey have died from the H1N1 virus. Health officials are still tracking the most serious cases but stopped tracking all positive results once they reached 1,000.

New Jersey currently has what is deemed a "regional" outbreak; between two and 10 of the state's 21 counties have reported cases. Health officials expect that the state will see a "widespread" outbreak within a few weeks.

Most major health insurers in New Jersey have agreed to cover the swine flu vaccine when it becomes available and Gov. Jon S. Corzine has said the state will guarantee free swine flu vaccinations for New Jersey's 1.3 million uninsured residents.

New Jersey has received nearly $40 million from the federal government to combat pandemic influenza. Much of the money is going directly to local and county health agencies to purchase and distribute vaccinations.

More than 2,000 providers have registered to receive the vaccines.

Although the shots are recommended for health care workers, Howard said vaccinations are strictly voluntary.

Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Susan Walsh said all providers will be required to register patients who get inoculated for swine flu. She said even if the strain of H1N1 mutates, the vaccine should be effective.

New Jersey health officials also are beginning to look into relaxing rules to allow hospitals and other facilities to set up triage tents, should an outbreak become more serious.

Several states have already begun using such a system at drive-thrus and drive-up tent clinics to screen and treat a swelling number of swine flu patients.

For more information about swine flu in New JerseyCLICK HERE

RELATED INFORMATION:

FAQs about swine flu
Additional swine flu resources
Transcript of 6abc.com's swine flu chat with local experts

RELATED LINKS:

CDC Swine Flu site
World Health Organization

RELATED INTERACTIVE:

Swine flu cases around the world

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