Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
SALT LAKE CITY -- Vaccines have arrived in Utah for the H1N1 virus, but only in limited supplies reserved for a specific group.
Clinics in Salt Lake have been swamped since the injectable vaccines arrived, but only children are getting the first doses.
Most of the local 12 health departments that received the injectable vaccines are giving them to children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years old, because they are so susceptible to the swine flu, and Utah kids even more so.
The health department says the nasal-mist form of the vaccine is still available for healthy people ages 2 to 24 and others that meet certain requirements.
Dr. Carrie Byington, a University of Utah Professor of pediatrics and infectious disease, explains that a routine vaccine given to children in the state, called Prevnar, does not target the pneumococcal bacteria. Prevnar protects against only seven of the 90 strains of the pneumonia virus."Utah children are particularly at risk for pneumonia because of the types of strains that we have," she said. If a child catches the flu, especially the H1N1 virus, they could end up with pneumonia, as well. Right now, only children with underlying health conditions can get a an adult vaccine for the pneumococcal bacteria.
"The good news is that for all healthy children, we expect in the near future, possibly before January 1, the licensure of a new vaccine specifically for children," Dr. Byington said.The only other people who may get the first vaccines are pregnant women, but that depends on the health department. Those interested in receiving the vaccine should call their local health department. Keep in mind where you live determines when you can go and get the vaccine. For example, the Weber-Morgan Health Department started administering the shots Wednesday, while Salt Lake County will start Thursday, and Davis County on Saturday.
Utah health officials say three people with swine flu have died in the last week.
The Utah Department of Health also says 127 people have been hospitalized either with the H1N1 virus or the seasonal flu. Officials say that number is unusual so early in the flu season.
The vaccines have been paid for by the federal government and are being offered free to those that meet the requirements.
Compiled with information from Amanda Butterfield and the Associated Press