Vaccine available for more midstate residents

Though nasal-spray vaccine supplies remain limited, H1N1 influenza vaccinations for a broader group of people are now available to midstate residents, health officials said Tuesday.

Last week, the vaccine was earmarked mainly for children ages 2 to 4 who are considered at high risk of complications from swine flu.

But now, in part because fewer than 200 doses of the vaccine have been administered in the midstate’s 13-county health district, officials have decided to offer the nasal spray — effective for people up to age 49 — to a wider population.

“Two- to 4-year-olds are a group that a lot of the parents depend on a pediatrician, so that’s a group that I don’t think we’re surprised that we haven’t had more demand,” said Jennifer Jones, public information officer for the North Central Health District.

Until more supplies of the FluMist vaccine arrive, area health departments are limiting giving the vaccine to anyone from age 2 to 24 and, if they have certain underlying medical conditions, for older people.

“We have sufficient quantities right now, but if there was a big rush on the vaccine today, then tomorrow our vaccine supply may be very low,” Jones said.

Officials are encouraging people to call their area health departments before they go to make sure they have it to dispense, as some of them “have only a handful,” Jones said. She said some area doctors may also have supplies of the vaccine.

To find out if your doctor has ordered it, you can check the Web site to see if your physician has registered as a provider. “If they’re on there, it means they should eventually get it,” Jones said.

To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.