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H1N1 shot here, but most must wait

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  • H1N1 shot here, but most must wait

    Nasal spray goes first to high-risk groups

    The first H1N1 flu vaccine for Illinois arrived Monday at Chicago hospitals -- but probably not for you.

    Aside from health-care workers and some children, people who want the vaccine will probably have to wait at least a few more days, or longer, for the vaccine to be widely available. Among the first to get it:

    The Cook County health and hospitals system got 3,000 doses of nasal-spray vaccine. Those are being distributed only to pediatric patients with advance appointments, spokeswoman Jill Watson said.

    Northwestern Memorial Hospital received 2,000 nasal-spray doses that will go to its outpatient doctors' offices.

    Children's Memorial Hospital got 500 doses of the nasal spray and began immunizing staffers. The aim: to inoculate staff who deal with patients first.

    The rest of the state should see the first shipments of the new vaccine in the next few days, Illinois Public Health Department spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said.

    By mid-October, the government plans to deliver most of the vaccine to doctors' offices, pharmacies, hospitals and clinics nationwide, as part of a massive effort to immunize more than half of the country in just a few months. Until then, health authorities are urging people to be patient with what the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is likely to be a "bumpy" rollout of the immunization program.

    Q.How can I find out when and where vaccine will be available?

    A.For now, the advice is to call your doctor, pharmacy or health department to see when they might get it.

    Q.Who should be first in line?

    A.Priority groups for the vaccine are health workers, pregnant women, caregivers of children younger than 6 months, children and adults under age 24 and adults who have underlying medical conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes, the CDC says.

    Q.What if I'm not in a priority group?

    A.You're asked to wait. And providers are being asked not to give it to you, though that's up to individual providers to follow. No one is policing the process. About 20 million doses of the vaccine will be distributed nationwide each week after the initial rollout, so there should be enough for everyone who wants it, the CDC says. "If the production of vaccine goes as planned, everyone in Chicago who wants a swine flu shot will be able to get one within the next 90 days," Chicago Public Health Department spokesman Tim Hadac said.

    Q.What's it cost?

    A.Providers are getting the vaccine free of charge from the government, but doctors and pharmacies might charge for administering it.

    Q.Can you get a shot for regular seasonal flu at the same time?

    A.If you can find a doctor or clinic that has both at the same time, you could get a shot of each, or a shot of one and the nasal spray for the other. But you're supposed to wait at least three weeks if you opt to get the mist version of both.
    "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation