<!-- /Date of publication --> <!-- Headline --> Health commissioner gets H1N1 shot after controversy
ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Richard Daines got stuck Wednesday, with the H1N1 flu vaccine.
"As you know we had a short supply of the vaccine through November and in December had to limit it to high priority groups. But by the second week in December there was enough coming into the state that anyone who wanted the vaccine could get it," said Dr. Daines.
The choice comes after critics fought his requirement that all health care workers get both the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines. Opponents cited civil rights and safety concerns about mercury-based preservatives in some shots.
"I said all along as soon as I'm qualified I'd be happy to get it. And we're well into this with probably 60,70 million doses administered nationwide, and we're seeing nothing of concern on the safety side," said Dr. Daines.
He recommends everyone without egg allergies get the vaccine. Already, 5 million doses have been distributed in New York, including some for children that have recently been recalled.
"That was a particular dosage form for children under three years of age. It's a type that was not recalled for safety reasons, but because the potency had declined just under the threshold," said Dr. Daines.
And the commissioner warns that even if you think you've already had the flu or that the flu season has passed, you might want to think again. That's because when you meet with all your friends and family for the holidays, there is that chance that everyone could spread the influenza virus.
Dr. Daines said, "We've had 11 pediatric deaths with this bout of flu, and that's just awful to have to have for something that's vaccine preventable."
At its height, Dr. Daines said 500 New Yorkers per week were hospitalized from the flu as he now relies on the vaccine himself - available at clinics, doctor's offices, hospitals and a number of pharmacies - as debate over vaccines inevitably continues.
"I guess I've been in Albany and I'm thick-skinned. I don't feel the shot anymore," joked Dr. Daines, perhaps taking a shot at some of those critics.
Meanwhile, Governor David Paterson announced Wednesday that New York was named one of the most prepared states if there were to be a health emergency. The state achieved a 9 out of 10 score. No state received the perfect 10 out of 10 in the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report.