TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The CDC is warning that the H1N1 virus could end up affecting 40 percent of the total U.S. workforce. The Northeast Public Health District announced Wednesday the vaccines are being shipped out and should arrive in the next few weeks.
Many are wondering how the shots will be distributed and who will qualify to receive the vaccine.
Hardly any of the cases of the H1N1 flu virus reported have involved adults 45 years of age or older. That's only about 10 percent. The average age to catch the virus has been about 10. That's why younger people and those with pre-existing conditions are considered a priority.
"It's been ordered," said Dr. David Lindzey, with Trinity Mother Frances. "It's been produced, and it should be arriving in the community shortly."
Though, unlike the seasonal flu, the H1N1 vaccine will only be purchased and distributed by the federal government through public health agencies.
"Of course, it flows downhill to the state health department and then to local health departments to disburse in their communities," said Harold Higgins, with the Northeast Health District.
"I haven't heard of any shortages," said Lindzey. "So, I don't think it's gonna be one of these things where they're stiff arming people at the door, and not allowing them because they are not sick enough."
Though there is no enforcement mechanism set forth by the government, the CDC recommends that doctors administer the vaccine to those most at risk of catching the virus, which is pregnant women. Teachers, healthcare and emergency personnel are at the top of the list because they are a potential source of infection for vulnerable patients. Adults with chronic illnesses. And, people falling in the range of six months to 24-years-old because they are in environments where the virus can easily spread.
"The virus tends to be influencing younger populations, and so the recommendations are for the younger population to receive the vaccination first," said Lindzey.
"There's not going to be the vaccine police at every doctors office, you know, checking people's status of anything like that," said Higgins. "This is a recommendation."
Meaning that once doctors receive the vaccine, it is entirely to their discretion as to who receives the shot.
"We're fortunate that the vaccine industry has been able to provide a vaccine with this amount of turnaround," said Lindzey.
It's important to note that the government is not charging a fee to the patient for the vaccine. That's free. However, it's up to your primary care physician or health administrator to decide on whether or not to charge a co-pay for the shot.
Those less than 10 years of age will need to get two shots. Both within about a month. That's because children essentially have no immunity to H1N1.