Tuesday, 29 September 2009 07:14
The novel H1N1 virus (Swine Flu Virus ) is expected to complicate the 2009/2010 flu season. The H1N1 vaccine has been approved for release but availability and access is still unknown. Seasonal influenza vaccine (flu shot) is available and the CDC recommends vaccination over the next few months.
The H1N1 vaccine will most likely start to be released in mid to late October, "but the supply will be limited and only those at highest risk will be able to receive it," stated Fran Lessans, founder and CEO of Passport Health, the largest private provider of travel medical services and immunizations in the nation. "We still do not know when the general public will be able to receive the H1N1 (Swine Flu) vaccine. Everyone should get a seasonal flu shot."
Passport Health plans to administer the novel H1N1 vaccine as a community vaccinator and has been attending weekly conference calls held by the CDC who will ultimately determine who receives it and who administers it.
Those at highest risk include:
- Pregnant women
- People who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age.
- Healthcare and emergency medical personnel.
- Those between 6 months and 24 years.
- People 25 through 64 years with chronic health issues.
"Businesses have to understand the storm that's coming and take measures to insure their viability since the Swine Flu is highly contagious. A pandemic plan should be in place and include a seasonal influenza program and possibly antivirals," continued Lessans. "There should also be special guidelines to follow if businesses are sending their workers overseas."
Passport Health is gearing up for what will be undoubtedly be a "challenging" flu season, as described by Lessans. "Our priority is to help immunize the public against the seasonal flu first, and then assist in the administration of novel H1N1." Lessans also explained that demand for the seasonal flu vaccine has increased significantly and manufacturers are having problems delivering the vaccine. "We have been through shortages before, and it's challenging, but we have always been able to pull through." Passport Health conducts on-site flu clinics for corporations nationwide and has an antiviral program in place.