JACKSON – The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) announces the limited availability of the 2009 H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine at all county health department clinics beginning Monday. So far, 223,800 doses have been allocated to Mississippi. Of those doses, 146,000 are injectable vaccine and 77,800 are nasal mist vaccine. The first injectable vaccine doses at the county clinics will be available for those in the following priority groups: pregnant women; children six months through four years of age; and parents, siblings, caregivers and anyone else living in the house with an infant under six months of age. These groups are at the highest risk for complications from influenza. The vaccine is free at all county health departments.
“Mississippians have proven to be very gracious in times of limited vaccine availability,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Mary Currier. “We ask everyone to remain patient as those with the highest risk of complications receive their vaccinations first. We’re receiving additional doses each week, and we expect the vaccine will be available for everyone once the priority groups have been vaccinated.”
Next week, MSDH will also begin mass vaccinations for students at various schools throughout the state. The school vaccinations of the nearly 500,000 school-aged children in Mississippians will take several weeks to complete.
“Just like the rest of the country, Mississippi is receiving limited shipments of the vaccine based on the population of our state,” said Dr. Currier. “Decisions are being made after each shipment arrives about how to reach those who are at the highest risk for complications and need the vaccine first.”
For those not in the high priority groups, Dr. Currier recommends getting your seasonal flu shot to protect yourself from seasonal influenza in the meantime. Also, continue using basic prevention methods including washing your hands frequently or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, coughing or sneezing into your sleeve, or coughing into a tissue followed by hand washing, and avoiding close contact with those who are sick. If you are ill, stay home until you are well, unless you need to see a doctor, in which case call first to prevent possible transmission in the doctor’s waiting area.
For more information on swine flu, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com or call the toll-free MSDH flu hotline at 1-877-222-9FLU. The hotline hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except state holidays. To receive updates on Twitter, visit the MSDH H1N1 swine flu page to sign up as a follower.