H1N1: N.D..Health Department says anyone can get swine flu shotUPDATED 2:21 P.M.
The North Dakota Health Department said demand for the swine flu vaccine has dropped off in some risk groups.
By: Blake Nicholson, Associated Press
BISMARCK — Want a swine flu vaccine? If there’s enough to go around in North Dakota, you just might be able to get one after all.
North Dakota’s Health Department said Monday that anyone who needs a swine flu vaccine — not just those in certain risk groups — may get one if local vaccine supplies allow for it.
For months the Health Department has been advising local health officials to give the swine flu vaccine only to people such as pregnant women, day care providers and health care workers.
Molly Sander, the state immunization program manager, said Monday that local public health units and private providers now can give vaccines to anyone who wants one. She said the providers did not necessarily need formal state permission but that “we wanted to try to do it as a collaborative thing.”
Sander said vaccine supplies have increased and the demand from people in risk groups has dropped off. There still are shortages in some parts of the state, including Fargo, North Dakota’s largest city, she said.
“In some areas, the health units and private providers may have to continue vaccinating only the priority groups for a while,” Sander said.
Fargo Cass Public Health has a swine flu vaccine clinic scheduled Wednesday but only for adults with chronic medical conditions. Agency director Ruth Bachmeier said there has been higher demand for the vaccine among priority groups in the Fargo area because of the larger population, the large number of health care providers in the city and Minnesotans crossing the border in search of vaccine.
“We’ve always said that we hope by the first of the year we would be able to go to the general public” with the vaccine, Bachmeier said.
Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health was planning a clinic Thursday for the general public.
“This is the perfect opportunity (for people) to protect themselves before the holidays,” said Cheryl Underhill, public health emergency preparedness coordinator for the eight-county region that includes Burleigh County. “The timing of this clinic this week will allow the approximately 10 days for the vaccine to be effective, to allow them to be protected over the holidays.”
Underhill said the public health unit was expecting between 500 and 1,000 doses of vaccine by Thursday.
Sander said more than 132,000 doses of the H1N1 virus vaccine have been shipped to North Dakota, and an additional 29,700 doses are expected soon.
Michelle Feist, the state’s influenza surveillance coordinator, said that of the 3,172 confirmed flu cases in North Dakota, a little less than 500 have been swine flu.