County releases H1N1 flu vaccine
Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services have begun recieving the first batches of live intranasal novel H1N1 influenza vaccine, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are anticipating the FDA release of an inactivated flu shot vaccine that will be available starting next week.’
This initial batch of intranasal vaccine, which is intended for frontline health care workers and children, was released Monday.
More than 2 million available doses of intranasal vaccine have been ordered by every state in the U.S. The vaccine is being delivered and made available as soon as it comes off the production line, CDC Director Thomas Friedman said Tuesday in a press conference.
Baylor College of Medicine professor W. Paul Glezen, one of the researchers involved in clinical trials testing the novel H1N1 vaccine, said that the live attenuated nasal vaccine is ready, and they are waiting on the FDA to release it.
Glezen said studies are being conducted to answer two questions.
‘One is whether or not two doses are required, as there has already been preliminary data published by the CDC that indicates one dose will be sufficient for everyone over nine years of age,’ Glezen said, ‘and whether or not you can give both the seasonal vaccine and the new pandemic strain vaccine at the same time.’
Floyd Robinson, director of the Health Center at UH, said that he is concerned about the safety of the vaccine at the Staff Council meeting Sept. 10.
‘ ‘I wonder if enough studies have been completed to render the vaccine efficacious and harmless to the intended population,’ Robinson wrote via e-mail.
Glezen said he is confident that the benefits of being vaccinated outweigh any potential risks.
‘We’ve been doing studies with the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic that indicate the vaccine is very safe,’ Glezen said, ‘and we have monitored several hundred pregnant women who have received the vaccine at different intervals during pregnancy and we’ve seen no complications.’
The inactivated vaccine is being tested at BCM in pregnant women and people of all ages.’ BCM is preparing to give about 12,000 doses of the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) to schoolchildren in Central Texas, Glezen said.
According to the World Health Organization, the first case of H1N1 was reported April 19. By May, 10,243 cases and 80 deaths worldwide were confirmed, and by June, a pandemic had been declared.
‘What makes (H1N1) different is it’s transmitted very rapidly, and as we saw last spring, it spread throughout the world within a period of about six weeks,’ Glezen said.
The majority of H1N1 cases have been mild. According to the WHO, only 1 percent of the cases have resulted in death.
Vivian Nowazek, assistant professor of nursing at UH-Sugar Land, said she had already been exposed, and the majority of people in Texas most likely have been exposed to the virus, too.
‘ ‘What we have found is, yes, it spreads very quickly, but it has been much less deadly than the regular seasonal flu,’ Nowazek said. ‘If people want to be scared, they need to be scared of the regular seasonal flu, because that’s the one that has been killing the high numbers of people.’
According to the CDC, an average of 36,000 people die and 300,000 are hospitalized in the U.S. every year due to flu-related illnesses.
‘If healthy people don’t avail themselves with the vaccine, they will be responsible for infecting a lot of people in the community,’ Glezen said.
Nowazek said people need to be cautious, but no one needs to panic, as they should just be smart.
‘I’m telling you, if you haven’t (already) been, you’re going to be exposed to this new one,’ Nowazek said.