H1N1 vaccines may be available at local pharmacies by this weekend

If you’re at high risk for the H1N1 flu, you may be able to get vaccinated at your nearby pharmacy by this weekend.

That’s the word from the Nevada State Health Division, which is reallocating vaccine that had been distributed locally through Southern Nevada Health District clinics.

“We’re putting in an order today, and there should be vaccine in pharmacies by Friday or Saturday,” said Martha Framsted, a division spokeswoman. “There will be a quick turnaround.”

Framsted said the state’s chief health officer, Dr. Tracey Green, was busy late today preparing a new order for H1N1 vaccine for Southern Nevada, and she did not have information on pharmacy locations or the number of doses they would receive.

Framsted noted that private providers and pharmacies may charge an administrative fee of $21.34 for the vaccine; there is no cost for people vaccinated at health district clinics.

Framsted also said that nearly half of the health district’s on hand vaccine — it had around 60,000 doses available as of today — will be redistributed to hospitals throughout Southern Nevada for use by health care providers, patients and their families.

The news of the reallocation of vaccine comes after the health district was heavily criticized last week by health division administrator Richard Whitley for withholding the vaccine from adults with medical conditions, something health agencies elsewhere in the state hadn’t done.

“We want to give people who need it better access to the vaccine,” Framsted said.

In a letter Monday to Whitley, Dr. Lawrence Sands, the district’s chief health officer, provided a formal distribution plan of the district’s vaccine supply.

In the letter, Sands promised “to avoid accumulating large supplies of the vaccine.”

Sands told the Review-Journal last week that he didn’t want to use all the vaccine the district had on hand for fear that one day it would run out during a clinic.

Sands wrote to Whitley: “Based on your assurance that the vaccine supply chain will be secure and provide a steadily increasing amount of vaccine to the state, the health district will no longer play a role in directing vaccine to the local private providers and therefore will no longer be involved in making vaccine allocation recommendations for private providers in Clark County.”

However, he asked that the state division prioritize its requests for vaccine in a way that ensures the district’s scheduled “mass vaccination clinics and special programs will not run out of vaccine.”

Some local physicians were critical of how little vaccine had been distributed by the district to local physicians. In Northern Nevada, the Washoe County Health District distributed the vast majority of H1N1 vaccine through private physicians.

Framsted said that in the near future in Southern Nevada, more vaccine will be more heavily distributed through private physicians as well as pharmacies.

Las Vegas Valley hospitals will receive an additional 25,000 doses of vaccine this week, she said, because many patients fall into risk groups, including dialysis and HIV patients. She also said families of newborns will be vaccinated, in addition to health care professionals.

The health district announced today new H1N1 immunization clinics. They include clinics Saturday in Las Vegas at Del Sol High School, 3100 E. Patrick Lane, and Sierra Vista High School, 8100 W. Robindale Road, and in North Las Vegas at Mojave High School, 5302 Goldfield St. The clinics are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Contact reporter Paul Harasim at pharasim@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2908.

 

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