Influenza Vaccine Update

We have been getting a lot of questions lately regarding influenza vaccine recommendations and availability. We have started to receive injectable and nasal vaccine for the seasonal influenza. This covers three strains of influenza. Our initial shipments come directly from the manufacturer and are for patients on commercial insurances. For patients on the Oregon Health Plan (medicaid) and uninsured the vaccines are purchased by the state and distributed to medical offices to administer. We anticipate this to arrive in the next several weeks. We will continue to dedicate Saturday mornings from 0900--1200 for influenza and other vaccines needed. Also if your child has an upcoming appointment in next 1--2 months we will be happy to take care of any vaccines at that visit.

Influenza vaccine is recommended for all children 6M and older. They are most important for kids under age 2, those around children too young to be immunized and children with medical conditions putting them at increased risk for complications from influenza (like asthma).

New this year is an additional shot for H1N1 2009 pandemic influenza that emerged last spring. The severity and spread of disease is not known at this time. Anticipation is that it will be the most common strain circulating since the strain has not been in the community in previous years and was seen to be the dominant strain in southern hemisphere (their winter) in recent months. The technology in manufacturing the vaccine is the SAME as regular influenza vaccine. It is NOT a new vaccine. What is new is the strain isolated to make the vaccine, but the process and ingredients used are the same as prior influenza vaccines. If the H1N1 strain had emerged earlier in the year it would have likely been incorporated into the regular seasonal vaccine (and may very well be what we see in winter 2010--2011). We do not yet know if children will need one or two doses to get the best protection.

The same recommendations exist for H1N1 2009 pandemic influenza vaccine (also known as "swine flu") regarding who to give it to. This vaccine is not yet available and anticipated to come to offices in late October or November. This vaccine will be purchased by the government and distributed to medical offices and public health clinics to administer. We have applied to be one of those sites. There will be no direct cost of vaccine to families, thought administration fees may apply. These are usually covered by insurance.

At this time we still don't know if children will need one or two of the H1N1 vaccine. We also don't yet know about simultaneous administration of H1N1 vaccine along with seasonal influenza vaccine. These questions will be answered in coming months. We will administer this vaccine in our same Saturday AM shot clinics. We anticipate ample supply of both H1N1 vaccine and seasonal influenza vaccines for our patients.

We will continue to update our web site to keep you alert to changes in this important issue. For the latest information visit "CDC Influenza":http://www.cdc.gov/flu site.

Vaccination is our best weapon to decrease the severity and spread of influenza this season!