Connecticut Announces Plan To Distribute H1N1 Vaccine

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Connecticut residents most at risk for the H1N1 (swine) flu virus will be among the first to receive the vaccine once it become available under the state’s distribution plan for the H1N1 vaccine, Governor M. Jodi Rell announced today.

The state distribution will be one of the topics featured in a summit on the H1N1 virus that the Governor convened for Thursday, September 10 at the Connecticut Convention Center. The summit will update municipal officials and others on steps Connecticut has in place to address potential outbreaks of the H1N1 virus at the state and local levels.

“Our plan will ensure that available supplies of the H1N1 vaccine go to those at greatest risk first and in a timely fashion,” Governor Rell said. “Common sense prevention, education and vaccination are essential tools in helping us combat outbreaks of the swine flu in schools, in the workplace and at home.”

The Governor said the priority groups under the state’s distribution plan include pregnant women, young children, caregivers of children under the age of six months, healthcare and emergency medical services personnel with direct patient contact and children and teens with chronic medical conditions. Medical experts report that the risk for infection among persons age 65 or older is less than the risk for younger age groups. Once vaccine demand among younger age groups has been met, programs and providers should offer vaccination to people 65 or older.

The state has been registering public and private doctors to administer the vaccine. Once available, it will be distributed to:

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* All 31 acute care hospitals for their direct care staff;
* Community health centers;
* Private physicians’ and OB/GYN offices;
* Visiting nurse associations;
* Grocery/pharmacy chains;
* School based health centers.

Governor Rell said the federal government expects that 45 million doses of the vaccine will be available by mid-October and will be made available to states at no cost. Connecticut anticipates an initial shipment of 500,000 doses. The state expects to receive an additional 200,000 doses weekly after the first allotment. The H1N1 vaccine is given in two doses 21-28 days apart. The H1N1 vaccine is only effective against the H1N1 virus and does not protect against seasonal influenza.

The state’s 41 mass vaccination areas, which are led by local health departments and districts, will coordinate, collaborate and communicate with the local health departments/districts and community health providers for their respective area to facilitate the timely administration of vaccine to target populations. Connecticut’s distribution plan was developed by the Department of Public Health with input and guidance from public and private providers, local health officials, state agencies, and others.

In April 2009, the first cases of the H1N1 virus, also referred to as the “swine flu,” were identified in the U.S. In June 2009, the World Health Organization upgraded the worldwide alert to a pandemic. In response, the CDC began the process of contracting for the production of a novel H1N1 influenza vaccine.

Connecticut has had more than 1,900 confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus and nine deaths. In Connecticut, all deaths related to H1N1 infection were people with underlying medical conditions.

The Governor said a vaccine for seasonal influenza will also be available this fall.

“It is important to remember that the H1N1 vaccine is only effective against that virus. We strongly encourage Connecticut residents to get their seasonal flu shot as well this season,” Governor Rell said.

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