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Minnesota vaccine deliveries delayed

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Health Department officials say much of the H1N1 flu vaccine may not arrive until after Thanksgiving.

Health-care providers had hoped to be giving more vaccinations for the pandemic H1N1 flu by now.

"There are always some bumps in the road," State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield said Wednesday. "The vaccine is coming slower than all of us would have liked, but it is coming."

Eventually, Lynfield said, enough will arrive in Minnesota for everyone who wants vaccinated, but she could provide no estimate when that will occur.

She said that 170,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine have arrived in the state, both in the form of nasal mists and shots. Officials would not release information about where the vaccine was sent.

Health-care professionals received the first doses, with a few clinics now receiving some vaccine. Minnesota officials say those clinics were "randomly selected" and were told to vaccinate only a select group of people that are most likely to catch H1N1 flu:

  • Children age 6 months to 4 years.
  • Children 5 years to 18 years who have health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or cancer.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Health care and emergency medical service providers with direct patient contact.
  • Parents and other primary care providers for youths younger than 6 months.

About 15 percent of the doses needed for those susceptible groups has arrived in Minnesota.

Minnesota Health Department officials said they do not have a schedule when more vaccinations will arrive.

Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Sanne Magnan said that with the delay, it becomes even more important for people with the flu stay home until at least 24 hours after the last symptoms disappear. She also said that since more Minnesotans probably will get sick, they should make plans, such as finding people in advance who can take care of children.

Lynfield said almost all the flu spreading now is of the H1N1 variety, but season flu will arrive in December or January. The two flu types need different types of vaccine. Seasonal flu vaccine is in good supply, although spot shortages have been reported.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.