SF has enough flu shots for everyone

September 3, 2009 5:53:51 PM PDT
The flu season this year will bring double trouble with the regular flu and the new H1N1 flu. One Bay Area county says it's prepared for both.

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The flu clinic at San Francisco's Public Health Department opened Thursday. The demand is expected to be high, not only for the flu shot to prevent the seasonal illness, but also the one for the so-called swine flu, or the H1N1 virus. That vaccine should be ready sometime next month.

There's plenty of the vaccine for the traditional flu, but the World Health Organization is warning of a possible shortage of the H1N1 vaccine on a global scale.

San Francisco expects to have enough for everyone who wants it for free; 100,000 doses should arrive in the first batch and 40,000 every week after that. Clinics will be set up in or near schools. Pregnant women, children, healthcare workers, and emergency responders will all have top priority, as will city leaders. However, those ABC7 talked with including the fire chief said they would step aside if necessary.

"I would like certainly children and any vulnerable populations, if there's a shortage, to be front in line," said San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White.

Medical experts have said two shots of the H1N1 vaccine will be necessary, but today one drug manufacturer, Novartis, announced evidence that a single dose may be enough.

Dr. Susan Fernyak, M.D., San Francisco's communicable disease expert believes there needs to be more study.

"My understanding is that the recommendation is still for there to be two shots until they have a little more solid data to make the decision to pull it back to just one," says Dr. Fernyak.

ABC7 found only a few people who plan to get the swine flu shots.

"I concentrate more on building my immune system and having that deal with it, than depending on a shot," said San Francisco resident Mark diTargiani.

That Norvatis single dose vaccine was made using an adjuvant - a pharmacological agent that increases a vaccine's effectiveness. The use of an adjuvant are common in Europe, but not in the U.S., so the U.S. may not agree to stretch the vaccine further.

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