LIMA — The H1N1 flu vaccine is available in all regional counties for the highest-risk populations, health and government officials said Thursday.
However, the government continues to see delays in making more of the vaccine.
The following are in the government’s highest priority group: pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than six months old, health care and emergency medical workers with direct patient contact, children between six months and 4 years of age, and children 5 through 18 with chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.
The second priority group is for people between the ages of 5 and 24 and people between 25 and 64 with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems.
In Ohio, the Health Department puts about 5.5 million people in the first and second priority groups, Director Dr. Alvin Jackson said. Within that large group, about 1.5 million people are in the first priority group; by next week, Ohio will have secured 1.9 million doses of the vaccine, covering the group.
States receive vaccine shipments in relation to their population and then share vaccines with counties in the same way. Allen County has a first priority population of 14,787 and has received 14,990 vaccine doses.
The Allen County Health Department has vaccines available only for those in high-risk groups, Health Commissioner David Rosebrock said.
“Vaccine supply continues to increase nationally, but we are still not where we want to be in Allen County,” Rosebrock said. “We really want to reach those most at risk, and that includes young people, especially children under 4 years of age and school children with chronic health conditions.”
Pre-registering for the vaccine through the Web sites of a local health department or the Ohio Health Department allows people to complete paperwork ahead of time and to be notified when clinics are available.
The flu is widespread across the country, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Frieden spoke with Jackson and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, to reporters Thursday.
“We’ve seen a slight decline in the last week or two (in flu cases), but it’s still at a far higher rate than in the peak of most flu seasons,” Frieden said. “We have about 52 million doses (of the vaccine) available for ordering. It’s not as much as we wish we had, but it’s a lot more than we had just a few weeks ago.”
The delay comes from a slow-growing virus used to make the vaccine.
The Ohio Department of Health reported 30 H1N1-related deaths and 2,547 hospitalizations through Tuesday.
The Allen County Health Department has H1N1 flu vaccines for people in high-risk groups. Call 419-228-INFO between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to schedule an appointment. The vaccine is free.