Topeka (WIBW) - Shawnee County received its first H1N1 vaccines Wednesday and they're already going to health care workers.
The Shawnee County Health Agency says it received a mixture of shots and nasal form. It gave a thousand doses each to Saint Francis Health Center and Stormont-Vail HealthCare. Additional doses were held for health agency workers and EMS workers, such as AMR ambulance crews.
SCHA Spokesperson Misty Krueger says health care workers were identified as the priority for the vaccinations because they are the ones who will work directly with sick patients. If they are not healthy, she says, no one would be available to care for those who are ill. Plus, since they are caring for the ill, they need to be protected against exposure.
Krueger says the health facilities are deciding how to distribute their allocations. At Stormont-Val, for example, front-line health workers, such as the emergency department staff, were already receiving the vaccinations by Wednesday afternoon.
The agency will continue to receive allocations of vaccine weekly, but Krueger says it's not known how much will be in each allocation. The first batch was larger than expected. It also included shots, when they were initially told they would receive only the nasal vaccine.
Once health care workers who want the vaccination receive it, the agency will expand availability to high-risk groups, including people aged six months to 24 years; pregnant women; and people with chronic health conditions.
As for concerns over the safety of the vaccine, Krueger says it was develped in the same manner as the regular seasonal flu vaccination. Those who do not have issues with the seasonal shot should not have problems with the H1N1 vaccine, she said.
Anyone with questions about seasonal flu or H1N1 may call the SCHA's Flu Hotline, 785-368-2025.