We have received many phone calls and comments on this blog from people across the Commonwealth who have been unable to locate the H1N1 and Seasonal flu vaccines. We understand — and share — in this frustration and would like to provide some general information on how vaccine distribution takes place in the state.
As background, this is an unprecedented flu season. There are five major vaccine manufacturers who are working day and night to produce both seasonal and H1N1 (swine) flu vaccines during the same time period. This has never been done before and, as a result, there have been some interruptions in the supply chain for both vaccines.
It's important to note that all vaccines are shipped directly from the manufacturer to the vaccine provider site — DPH does not physically receive and then redistribute any vaccines. DPH does play two important roles in the vaccine distribution process: we serve as a registration point for health care providers who wish to receive vaccines for their patients and/or client populations, and we communicate with these providers about the weekly projected total amount of vaccine expected in the state.
The availability of vaccine at any given provider site at any given time may be sporadic at this time. Every effort is being made to ensure that providers who serve high-priority groups will receive vaccine as soon as possible. The single most effective way that you can stay informed about the availability of seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccine in your community is by staying in touch with your health care provider, and by visiting http://flu.masspro.org where you'll find a database of locations currently offering flu vaccines, searchable by your zip code.
It's important to note that there are no public H1N1 vaccination clinics currently scheduled in the state. This is because, like all other states, we have only received a very small allotment of the total amount of H1N1 vaccine expected.
Again, we share your concern and frustration about these delays. However, we are confident that the federal government will continue to do everything they can to ensure the efficient distribution of safe and effective flu vaccines as they become available. This situation is sure to continue to evolve, and we pledge to keep you updated on this blog as it does.