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Region's first swine flu vaccine doses arrive

Region's first swine flu vaccine doses arrive

Several health care providers in the Capital Region on Tuesday received nasal spray vaccine to inocu
Region's first swine flu vaccine doses arrive
Maribeth Miller of the Albany County Department of Health unpacks swine flue vaccine on Tuesday.

Several health care providers in the Capital Region on Tuesday received nasal spray vaccine to inoculate high-priority groups against the H1N1 flu.

In coming weeks, an injectable form of the vaccine will become available for the general public.

Schenectady County Public Health received 500 doses and Albany Medical Center and Ellis Medicine got 1,000 doses each.

Saratoga Hospital has not received the vaccine yet, said spokeswoman Ellen Kerness. She didn’t know when the hospital will get its first batch.

“We ordered, and when they get set to deliver they will let us know,” she said.

St. Mary’s Hospital in Amsterdam expects to receive its allocation of vaccine by Nov. 1, a spokeperson said.

Schenectady County spokesman Joe McQueen said public health officials will administer the nasal spray to front-line staff first and distribute remaining doses to local pediatricians.

Health care workers, emergency medical service personnel and children and young people ages 3 through 24 are among the high-priority groups. Other priority groups include people who live with or provide care for infants younger than 6 months of age and people ages 25-64 who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk for serious illnesses.

The nasal spray was distributed based on a county’s population and number of hospital beds. County health departments serving 100,000 people or less will receive only 200 doses this week. Health departments with more than 500,000 people will get 1,000 doses this week, as will hospitals with more than 286 beds.

Because the spray contains live H1N1 virus, it cannot be distributed to pregnant women, children 2 years old and younger, people with compromised immune systems or health care providers who deal with these populations, health officials said.

Nicole Pitaniello, Albany Med spokeswoman, said the medical facility will vaccinate some staff and send some nasal spray to its pediatric clinics.

“The 1,000 doses we received today are plenty. We received more than we expected,” she said.

Donna Evans, spokeswoman for Ellis Medicine, said Ellis will use the 1,000 doses it received for its work force.

“It’s a good start. Our whole goal is to keep our patients safe by inoculating our work force. We have 3,400 employees and 600 affiliated physicians. We also have volunteers,” she said.

The state expects to receive a total of 91,000 doses of vaccine for counties outside of New York City by the end of the week.

Officials expect the state to get 6.7 million doses for upstate and 5 million doses for New York City by January.

The federal Centers for Disease Control expects about 3.5 million additional doses to be available nationwide this week, with 10 million to 15 million doses of vaccine available each week thereafter until the end of October.

Albany Med plans to distribute 20,000 doses of injectable vaccine when it becomes available, Pitaniello said.

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