San Diego has finally received its first shipment of the swine flu vaccinem, but don't call your doctor for an appointment just yet.
This shipment is so small -- just 28,000 nasal spray doses -- that the vaccines are reserved for healthy children ages 2 to 18. Then, there is a whole list of people who are considered "most at risk."
“We do anticipate there could be tight supplies initially because the vaccine is just now starting to arrive,” said Dean Sidelinger, deputy public health officer for the county of San Diego.
The first doses were given to healthy children Tuesday at two public health clinics. The vast majority -- 26,000 of the 28,000 doses -- in the first shipment will be given directly to providers who care for children and should be available in the next week.
Only healthy children ages 2 to 18 are eligible for the vaccine now.
The county will get more doses, in the form of shots, in the next two weeks.
Priority recipients of the vaccine are pregnant women, children and young adults ages 6 months to 24 years old, adults with underlying medical conditions from 25 to 64 years old, caretakers for infants under 6 months old, and health care workers and emergency responders, according to county health officials.
Pregnant women are not supposed to get the nasal spray.
"The flu mist is not FDA-approved for pregnant women," said San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten. "It is a live vaccine, which means the virus has been modified or weakened. It is not the live virus, but it can cause some mild symptoms."
The county is expecting 411,000 doses, in both nasal spray and shot form, to arrive by the end of the month.
“Supplies will be more limited when we first start, but as the weeks go on, we will have more supplies in the county, and we anticipate being able to vaccinate all children and adults who want the vaccine in the county,” said Sidelinger.
The swine flu vaccine is free because the government bought it with taxpayer money, but providers can charge a fee for administering it.
The vaccine isn't bulletproof, but is recommended.
"No vaccine is 100 percent," Wooten said. "The efficacy for the vaccine is 70 to 90 percent, just as it is for the regular seasonal flu."
Hospitals in Memphis and Indianapolis were among the first hospitals in the nation to administer the vaccine Monday. Still, health experts said it may be weeks before there are enough does of vaccine to cover significant portions of the population.
Health experts expect the H1N1 flu shot and regular flu shot to be combined into one shot by the time next year's flu season arrives.
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