Swine flu is now in our midst, and, unfortunately, there’s a shortage of vaccine against the H1N1 flu virus – causing a great deal of frustration among people waiting to be vaccinated. Because of the vaccination shortage, the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Procedures has prioritized who should get the available vaccines first. If you fall into one of these high risk groups, you should receive priority for the available H1N1 flu vaccines.
Who Gets the H1N1 Flu Vaccine First?: Pregnant Women
Pregnant women have one of the highest rates of complications of people diagnosed with the swine flu virus. Even pregnant women who are healthy are at a higher risk for hospitalization and death if they develop swine flu infection. Past seasonal flu epidemics show that the fetus may be at higher risk of complications when the mom is diagnosed with swine flu – including premature delivery and spontaneous abortion. In addition, babies who are born to moms who have been vaccinated may have some natural protection against the H1N1 flu virus. This is why pregnant women are at the top of the list of people to get the H1N1 flu vaccine during a vaccination shortage.
Children and Young People
Children and young adults are at a higher risk both for getting swine flu and for developing complications from it. This is because they haven’t been exposed to as many flu viruses in the past that could offer some cross protection. For this reason, the advisory committee recommends that children and young people between the ages of six months and twenty-four years be given vaccination priority if there’s a shortage of vaccine.
Adults with Medical Problems
Adults who have medical problems which put them at increased risk of flu complications will also get priority during an H1N1 flu virus vaccination shortage. Those who have conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or lung disease – among others – may be considered at high risk and be given access to the vaccine on a priority basis.
Other Higher Priority Groups
If there’s a shortage of vaccine for H1N1, the committee recommends that people who are caretakers for children under six months of age and health care workers also be given the vaccination before those at lower risk
H1N1 Vaccination Shortage: The Bottom Line?
Fortunately, more H1N1 vaccines are slowly arriving, so, hopefully, all high risk groups of people will be vaccinated – as well as others. In the meantime, stay away from people who are showing signs of illness, practice frequent hand washing, and eat a healthy diet. These simple measures can go far towards reducing your risk of developing swine flu.
The Medical Letter. Volume 51, Issue 1322. pages 77-78.