DHS: H1N1 vaccine available to general public

CONTACT: Stephanie Marquis, (608) 266-1683

Target Groups to Remain a Priority for Health Care Providers

The Department of Health Services (DHS) announces today that public health departments and private health care providers have been notified that they may start vaccinating members of the general public. However, DHS has instructed all health care providers to continue efforts to reach out to and vaccinate those in the CDC target groups.

“With more than 1.5 million doses of H1N1 vaccine in the state, we have reached a point where we can begin to offer the vaccine to individuals outside of the target group populations,” said State Health Officer Dr. Seth Foldy. “While this is good news, it should not be interpreted as an indication that those most-at-risk have all been vaccinated. Protecting pregnant women, everyone under the age of 24 and those with underlying health conditions remain our top priority.”

H1N1 activity is expected to continue throughout the influenza season and DHS recommends that all individuals, especially those on the CDC target list, get vaccinated as another wave of H1N1 cases could occur later this season. The H1N1 vaccine is safe and effective and even those who’ve had flu-like symptoms should be vaccinated as there are a variety of respiratory illnesses that circulate during cold and flu season. Children age 10 and under require two doses of the H1N1 vaccine, with an optimal time of four weeks between first and second doses.

For the last several weeks, DHS has been closely monitoring the vaccine supply and distribution at public and private vaccination sites across the state. The decision to expand to the general public has been discussed with the major hospital systems and public health directors.

In addition, DHS will begin distribution of H1N1 vaccine to pharmacies across the state, which will significantly increase the number of vaccination sites available to the general public. Some pharmacies may not be able to vaccinate children, so DHS recommends checking with the pharmacy before bring children to the vaccination site.

People may call 2-1-1 to find out an H1N1 or seasonal influenza vaccine clinic nearest them. A “clinic finder” is also available online at http://pandemic.wisconsin.gov or http://www.wisconsinfluclinic.info.