October 2, 2009

When will the H1N1 vaccine be available?

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Vaccine for the H1N1 influenza virus should begin arriving in the coming days. (Photo by Susan Urmy)

When will the H1N1 vaccine be available?

The first doses of the H1N1 influenza vaccine will arrive in early October with increasing amounts coming in through December, according to Kelly Moore, M.D., M.P.H., medical director of the Tennessee Department of Health Immunization Program.

“We will prioritize the first shipments for high-risk groups and health care workers. Once we have addressed them, other providers will receive shipments for the general public. The vaccine probably won't be widely available until November,” Moore said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mandates how many doses a state has access to. To determine demand, the Tennessee Department of Health created a pre-registration system through the state immunization registry and asked interested providers to sign up. The Department of Health will decide how to distribute the available vaccine based on that list.

“But it will take several weeks to work down the list,” Moore cautioned. “If you hear vaccine is available in one place but can't find it in your area, know that it will be coming eventually. Ultimately, there will be enough vaccine for everyone who wants it, it just might not be as early as they would like.”

Vanderbilt University Medical Center was involved in clinical trials of the vaccine. The Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU) tested the vaccine's safety and effectiveness in adults and children.

“The data suggest that one dose will be adequate for adults and children over age 10,” said Kathryn Edwards, M.D., professor of Pediatrics and director of the VTEU. “Children younger than 10 will need two doses.”

The H1N1 vaccine is paid for by the federal government, and providers will be given free syringes, alcohol swabs and sharps containers.

Private providers can charge patients an administration fee, but it cannot exceed the Medicare rate of $19.18.

At VUMC, the vaccine will be free for employees, but patients will pay a $10 administration fee.


The Health Department will also be holding clinics to administer the vaccine at no cost.

VUMC employees will be notified when the vaccine is available, and Occupational Health will set up a central location to administer it conveniently.