State officials want Missourians to get vaccinated against the H1N1 virus , once the state finally gets the vaccine.
H1N1, popularly known as the Swine Flu, has already hit the state. The vaccine is expected to arrive in Missouri by mid-October. State Health Director Margaret Donnelly says trials at St. Louis University have provided some good news.
"We will probably need only one shot for the vaccine to be effective, instead of the two shots which we had expected," Donnelly says. "That means that we will be able to get a larger number of people vaccinated more quickly. When the vaccine first comes in, we will be targeting certain groups, such as health care workers who have direct contact with patients."
Other vulnerable groups include pregnant women, children six-months old to 18-months who struggle with various health problems and the elderly who are likewise afflicted.
Donnelly expects the state will have 878,000 doses of vaccine by the middle of next month. Donnelly urges Missourians, especially those over 65, to get their normal flu shots now. They can receive the H1N1 vaccine when it arrives later.
Donnelly met with the staff of the St. Louis University Center for Vaccine Development, one of eight sites funded by the National Institutes of Health where clinical trials are under way to test the safety and effectiveness of the new vaccine. Dr. Sharon Frey, clinical director of SLU’s Center for Vaccine Development, is overseeing the tests at St. Louis University. So far, tests have proven that one shot of the vaccine can be safe and effective in fighting H1N1.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services says Donnelly’s tour of the facility on Monday kicked off a statewide campaign against the Swine Flu. The Department reports the seasonal flu causes about 15,000 illnesses in Missouri in a typical year between early October and late May. But the new H1N1 virus, which emerged in the United States in April, continued to cause illness throughout the summer.
Donnelly says more vaccine will be coming to Missouri after the initial doses, enough she says for everyone who wants the vaccine to get it.