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John AuerbachPosted by:
Commissioner John Auerbach, Department of Public Health

 

 

As of this past weekend, the state has received just over 1 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine. However, this is still less than one third of the total amount of vaccine we have ordered. Each week we receive tens of thousands of vaccine doses in our state but we need hundreds of thousands, and eventually millions, to fully address the need.  According to the latest projections from the federal government, we will see a significant increase in the volume of doses in our vaccine shipments by the second week in December. 

Since it first became available in small amounts in early October, most of the vaccine has been sent to clinical settings.   But because there are thousands of clinical settings that share these shipments, none of them receive enough.  In general, the size of the shipment that a clinical site receives each week is a reflection of the number of patients in the targeted priority groups that it cares for.  However, this varies somewhat based upon the type of vaccine that becomes available each week.  For instance, pregnant women can’t take nasal flu vaccine sprays: so if the only vaccine available is the nasal spray, we cannot send that new quantity to OB/GYNs.  It can however, be administered to healthy children, and would therefore be sent to pediatricians. Regrettably, given the changeability of the production processes we don't know what amounts or what formulations of vaccine doses will become available ahead of time.  This makes it very difficult for clinical practices to plan ahead or to notify their patients of what to expect.

In addition to the shipments to the clinical practices, a smaller quantity goes to local public health departments to conduct a limited number of community-level public clinics, some of which are school-based.  You will be seeing more and more of these public vaccination efforts in the coming weeks and we hope that these will take some pressure off of the clinical sites by offering residents alternative options.

To date, however, as soon as the vaccine arrives at any of the sites, it is quickly administered. Because of the gap between supply and demand, it will continue to be necessary for members of the public to check in periodically with their clinical providers regarding the availability of vaccine or to check http://flu.masspro.org for public clinic listings.  

DPH is as frustrated as you are about the current situation. While we cannot speed up the vaccine production process, we will continue to distribute the vaccine to providers as soon as it becomes available and provide you with the most up to date information on the situation. 

Please remember that while we encourage all residents to utilize the comments section on this blog, DPH will no longer be able to respond to specific questions and comments.

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Communications Office

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