First, a brief programming note: the Weekly Flu Report that usually appears in this space on Thursdays is slightly delayed this week, and will be posted here tomorrow. In the meantime, we wanted to take a few minutes to talk about how seasonal and H1N1 vaccines make their way from vaccine manufacturers into the community.
There are five major vaccine manufacturers who are producing flu vaccine this year. They are producing vaccines for both Seasonal and H1N1 flu, in the same time period. This has never been done before, and there have been some interruptions in the supply chain as a result. Nonetheless, these manufacturers are working day and night to produce and ship the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines in ever-increasing quantities to communities across the state and country.
All vaccine supplies are shipped directly from the manufacturer to the community-level provider, such as physician’s offices, hospitals, community health centers, pharmacies, and local public health departments. There are a couple ways to monitor when vaccine is available in your community:
- Visit http://flu.masspro.org, to find out if there are any public flu clinics planned for your area, including vaccination clinics at supermarkets and chain pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreen’s or Rite Aid.
- Keep in close contact with your health care provider to stay updated on when they expect to receive vaccine supplies from the manufacturer, and to schedule an office visit to get vaccinated when they do.
Getting vaccinated is a great way to keep from getting sick – but there are also other vitally important ways we can keep from getting or spreading the flu, including frequent hand washing with soap and warm water, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; covering our cough and sneeze with a disposable tissue or our inner elbow if a tissue isn’t handy; and staying home from work or school if we’re sick.