Doctors have nasal H1N1 flu serum

Published 2:13 am Saturday, October 24, 2009

Local pediatricians reported they now have nasal mist H1N1 vaccines available to the public.

The vaccines, which are being provided by the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), are free.

Dr. Gabrielle Baldwin at Covington Pediatrics said the vaccine works by “injecting” it into the nasal passages.

“It’s an intranasal mist, which means that it works by placing the syringe in the nasal passage and pushing the plunger,” she said. “Half goes in one side of the nose, the other in the other half. It travels through the nasal passages, down the back of the throat and into the lungs.

“Best of all, it’s not a shot and doesn’t hurt a bit,” she said.

Baldwin said the vaccine is “just like the one for the seasonal flu.” There is a small administrative fee that is normally covered by insurance companies.

Both Baldwin and Dr. Bashwan Bang of Opp’s South Alabama Pediatrics said they are seeing a decrease in the number of overall flu cases; however, parents should not put off getting the vaccine.

“We are seeing that number decrease, at least now compared to two months ago,” Bang said. “But as we have experienced in previous epidemics in 1918 and 1976, we expect it to return later in the winter. I just hope we don’t see any new strains.”

The state Department of Public Health announced this week it is going to allocate incoming swine flu vaccine to the following groups first: providers who can vaccinate children 6 months through 4 years old, children 5-18 with underlying health problems, pregnant women, caregivers of babies under 6 months and health care workers. The department is asking doctors to reserve vaccines for those groups until bigger supplies arrive.

Department spokesman Dr. Jim McVay said Thursday the state will not start school vaccination clinics for children younger than 10 until the end of November.

State Health Officer Don Williamson said clinics for older children and staff will not happen until December and January.