The first doses of the H1N1 vaccine to protect against the swine flu will be available as early as Tuesday. However, not everyone will be able to get the vaccination immediately. So who is first in line?
There are two types of the vaccine: a nasal spray, which is made with a live, weakened flu virus and is recommended only for healthy people ages 2 to 49; and an injection, which is made with a version of the dead virus. The initial doses will consist only of the nasal-spray version.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that the following high risk groups receive the swine flu vaccine when it first becomes available:
- Pregnant women are top priority because they have a six-times greater risk of complications from the flu. Vaccination also could protect their babies, who cannot be vaccinated until they are 6 months old. (However, it is recommended that pregnant women wait for the injection version.)
- Young children aged 6 months through 18 years old are also a high priority because they are exposed at higher rates in school and day care settings. Check out Toddler Buzz for important information about how the H1N1 vaccine will be administered to kids under 9.
- Health care and emergency medical personnel with direct patient contact are a priority group as well because they not only are exposed at higher rates but could also potentially infect vulnerable patients.
- Parents and caregivers of babies under 6 months old should be among the first groups to receive the vaccination in order to protect babies from the flu.
- Young adults ages 19 to 24 are a priority group as well because they are more vulnerable to the swine flu virus than other populations.
- People 25 to 64 years old who have health conditions (such as diabetes, asthma, obesity, and heart disease) that put them at a higher risk of flu complications are also a priority group.
Check your state health department's Web site to find out when the vaccine will become available in your community.
Will you get the swine flu vaccine?