Providers can now offer H1N1 vaccine to all if priority groups are getting immunized and supplies are adequate

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 at 7:23 am

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is advising local public health agencies and private health care providers that they can now offer the H1N1 vaccine to everyone, provided they have enough vaccine and they can still meet the needs of high risk patients who want to be vaccinated.

The new recommendations will take effect on Dec. 16. MDH officials emphasized that that the decision to broaden the vaccine effort needs to be made by each individual health agency or provider, based on their own needs and resources.

“Many individual providers feel they are ready to make the H1N1 vaccine available to everybody,” said Dr. Sanne Magnan, Minnesota Commissioner of Health. “We are now advising them to take that step if they have an adequate supply of vaccine, once they have made sure that people at high risk for complications of H1N1 have had a chance to be vaccinated. The decision needs to be made by each individual provider, based on an assessment of their own situation.”

MDH officials emphasized that vaccinating people in high risk groups is still the first priority. Priority groups for vaccination, as identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), include people who are:

* Age 6 months through 24 years, with or without a health condition that puts them at higher risk of medical complications from influenza.
* Age 25 years through 64 years with a chronic medical condition that puts them at higher risk of medical complications from influenza.
* Pregnant women.
* Health care providers or emergency medical services personnel.
* Living with or caring for children under 6 months of age.

It’s still important for people to get vaccinated, even though the H1N1 pandemic appears to be waning.

“We are still seeing some influenza activity from the H1N1 virus, and we could see a third major wave of illness sometime later in the winter,” said Kris Ehresmann, Director of the MDH Infectious Disease Division. “It’s still important to get vaccinated if you can.”

People who want to be vaccinated are urged to keep checking back if their provider currently doesn’t have any vaccine – especially if they are in a priority group. MDH is encouraging providers with ample vaccine supplies to share it with those who do not.

To date, approximately 1.4 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine have been allocated for Minnesota, with more expected in the coming weeks. About 2.7 million Minnesotans belong to one of the priority groups identified by CDC.

Information about where to find an H1N1 vaccination clinic is available at www.mdhflu.com.

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