Health officials ask for patience: H1-N1 vaccine shipments taking longer

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA. (WWBT) - We learned today, the flu is definitely here and making itself known in Virginia, but the vaccines are not. It's taking much longer than expected for enough vaccine to arrive at local health districts. State health officials are on standby waiting for more of the H1-N1 vaccine to arrive.

"We don't have quite as much vaccine as we anticipated having this week," said Kay Rankin, Crater Health District Director.

The delay comes just as the campaign begins to vaccinate the most at-risk populations, from children to young adults to pregnant women.

"I don't think that there's any indication to worry. We're not hearing that there's any problem with the vaccine simply that it's coming out a little slower than we'd anticipated and that with time there should be enough vaccine for anyone who wants to become vaccinated," said Rankin.

There's no doubt the swine flu has arrived in Virginia. 8 percent of all visits to doctor's offices in the state are currently influenza related. That's the highest level in three years. And some area schools are starting to experience absentee rates of 10 to 15 percent, which have also been linked to the flu.

The flu season lasts several months in Virginia, so health officials say even if you can't get the vaccine until November - it will still be worth it to get the shot.

"Do we wish it were here right now in greater quantities? Of course we do but again we expect there to be plenty of vaccine arriving over the course of the next several weeks," Rankin said.

For more information on H1-N1 or to find a list of locations where the vaccine is available click the link to the right of the article. There's also a phone number you can call for any questions about the swine flu. Its 1-877-ask-vdh3

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