INDIANAPOLIS-Today, State Health Commissioner Judy Monroe, M.D. and Marion County Health Director Virginia A. Caine, M.D. rolled up their sleeves to get H1N1 flu shots. Dr. Monroe recently announced there is now enough of the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine coming into the state to start vaccinating the general public. Based on data in the Children and Hoosiers Immunization Registry Program, at least 823,265 doses of the H1N1 flu vaccine had been administered in Indiana.
"It is important the public does not get apathetic about the H1N1 flu," said Dr. Monroe. "We have a window of opportunity right now to get Hoosiers vaccinated and hopefully avoid a third wave of this pandemic. During the 1957-1958 flu pandemic, there was an increase in deaths from the flu in January 1958."
Dr. Monroe and Dr. Caine received their H1N1 flu vaccinations at the Kroger Pharmacy on E. 71st Street. Kroger and Walgreens recently signed on as providers of the H1N1 flu vaccine, now that it can be offered to the general public. Like other providers, pharmacies wanting to administer the H1N1 flu vaccine must sign provider agreements and enter information on doses given in the Children and Hoosiers Immunization Registry Program.
"Pharmacies will be yet another resource for the public to use to get the H1N1 flu vaccine," said Dr. Monroe. "Indiana's pharmacies are already an important part of the state's health care system, so it only made sense to have them part of efforts to get people vaccinated. They will not replace public vaccination clinics, where the vaccine will still be free, but it will give Hoosiers more options."
"We are pleased to have additional resources where the public can receive their H1N1 vaccine. The Marion County Health Department will continue to offer H1N1 vaccine at no charge through its own clinics. We cannot over emphasize the importance of making certain everyone receives the H1N1 vaccine," said Dr. Caine.
"When faced with a flu pandemic, we must have a well coordinated effort that includes public and private partnerships," said Dr. Monroe. "I am proud of the work the local health departments have done in getting the H1N1 flu vaccine out to the high-risk groups. Most have already successfully engaged hospitals, schools, universities, and private health care providers to become part of the H1N1 flu vaccination campaign, so adding pharmacies into the mix should only improve on what's already working."
To date, the Indiana State Department of Health has ordered 133,800 doses for more than 300 pharmacies, some of which will be able to give the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine to the general public this week. In addition, a number of local health departments have already started offering vaccine to people outside of the high-risk groups.
"Just because you had influenza-like illness or were told you had the flu by a doctor, you should still get the vaccine unless you received confirmation from a laboratory that you had the 2009 H1N1 influenza," warns Dr. Monroe.
On Monday, December 14, 2009, the Indiana Board of Pharmacy voted (seven in favor and zero against) to issue an order allowing pharmacists to administer the H1N1 flu vaccine to an expanded group of patients. This action came about as a result of the President's National Declaration of Emergency related to Flu Pandemic. With this declaration, the Board by statute has the authority to suspend whatever pharmacy laws and rules it deems necessary to provide necessary pharmaceutical care to the citizens of Indiana. In consultation with the State Department of Health, the Board determined that it was appropriate to now allow pharmacists to administer the H1N1 vaccination under specified circumstances.
Those interested in getting the H1N1 flu vaccine can use the Flu Shot Locator at www.in.gov/fluto find a location near them that is providing the H1N1 flu vaccine, including any area pharmacies. Local health departments will continue to provide the H1N1 flu vaccine for free. Pharmacies can charge a fee of up to $19.59 to administer the H1N1 flu vaccine.
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