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H1N1 vaccine available to all, state health officials say

January 7, 2010 | 12:37 pm

Virtually all communities in California now have an abundance of H1N1 vaccine, Dr. Mark Horton, the state health officer, said today. 

In a conference call with reporters, Horton said California has received about 15 million doses of the inoculation, approximately two-thirds of the supply the state is expected to get of the H1N1 vaccine this season. Almost all jurisdictions are reporting that they have enough vaccine to inoculate the general public, instead of just the priority groups most at risk to H1N1, also known as the swine flu. 

Numerous production delays last year affected communities nationwide, leading to long lines and complaints of poorly run vaccination clinics until supply caught up with demand.

Currently, fewer than half of California’s local public health departments are reporting active H1N1 flu outbreaks, Horton said. Overall, recent reports of flu are about normal for this time of year, according to a state staff report. Still, Horton said it remained important that people continue to get inoculated, as a third wave of the H1N1 flu is still possible and the traditional flu season does not taper off until spring.

For the week that ended on Jan. 2, nine H1N1-related fatalities were reported to the state. For the previous week, 12 fatalities were reported.

Horton was asked why the state has not released the names of companies and healthcare providers who received vaccine from the state. He responded that because state officials did not notify the providers that their names could be released to the public if they received the vaccine, and that there were other ways the public could find vaccine supply, his judgment was there was no need to release that information.

Reporters have been seeking a list of private providers who received H1N1 vaccine to determine which companies and clinics ordered the vaccine and how much they received. Last fall, there were complaints among some doctors, hospitals and local health officials who were left out of the first shipments of vaccine.

Many patients reported they were unable to find vaccine soon after it began shipping to doctor’s offices. Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the Los Angeles County health officer, has told The Times that he feared that if the county produced a list of providers who received the vaccine, those named would be inundated with requests for the vaccine, even if they had run out. 

-- Rong-Gong Lin II and Molly Hennessy-Fiske

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