For Immediate Release
September 30, 2009

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461

MEDIA ADVISORY: State health officials discuss the 2009 H1N1 vaccine that is coming to Kansas

Today, Kansas is another step closer to having the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine available in the state.

This afternoon, Roderick Bremby, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, State Health Officer and Director of the Health at KDHE, held a news conference to discuss the H1N1 vaccine and address the process of how the vaccine is distributed, the priority groups, how the initial doses will be administered, safety and monitoring of the H1N1 vaccine, and what Kansans can do to protect themselves against the H1N1 virus.

Starting today, states will be able to place their first orders for the 2009 H1N1 vaccine.  The vaccine will be allocated based on population, with Kansas receiving about 16,000 doses in this first allocation.

The first shipments of the vaccine should arrive in the state during the first week of October.  The first doses that will be available will be the H1N1 Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV), a nasal-spray flu vaccine, which can be given to healthy individuals 2-49 years of age.

“We are pleased to be one step closer to receiving this new safe and effective vaccine in the state,” Bremby said.  “However, Kansans should understand that initially we will only receive a very small amount and it will be several months before there will be enough to provide to everyone in the state wanting to protect themselves from this new virus.”

Kansas is following the national H1N1 vaccine prioritization recommendations developed by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).  The ACIP has recommended that certain groups of the population receive the 2009 H1N1 vaccine when it first becomes available because they have been identified as having the highest risk of having severe illness with the H1N1 virus. 

These target groups include pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age, healthcare and emergency medical services personnel, persons 6 months through 24 years of age, and people ages of 25 through 64 years of age who are at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.

Because early supplies will be very limited, KDHE has recommended to local health departments that they further sub-prioritize and provide the initial vaccine doses to health care workers with direct patient contact and healthy children two through nine years of age.

“The rationale for this recommendation is to have a practical approach to administering the vaccine most effectively within the target populations,” said Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips. “The first vaccine doses we receive will be the LAIV, which will be most appropriate for the health care workers who have no underlying health conditions, and allows for the early administration to healthy two through nine year old children who will require a second dose.”

The process of vaccine distribution is a combined effort of federal, state and local governments.  Each week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will determine how much vaccine each state will receive based on population. 

KDHE will allocate Kansas’ share among each of the counties in the state. Initial county allocations are based on 2008 population census data of 0-24 year olds.  This age-adjusted data is to better assure that the vaccine is allocated in a way that reflects the primary target populations of children and young adults.  Once the vaccine demand has been met for the five target groups, allocations will be calculated on the total population.

After KDHE allocates the vaccine to each county, the local health department will make the decision on how the vaccine is administered locally.  Local health departments may choose to partner with public and private providers in their county (such as hospitals, doctor's offices or retail pharmacies) to help administer the H1N1 vaccine. (See the attached flow chart for more details on how the H1N1 vaccine will be distributed in the state of Kansas.)

Based on information provided by the CDC, KDHE expects the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine to be similar to the seasonal flu vaccines which have very extensive safety record.

“It is essential that Kansans are aware of how safe and effective the 2009 H1N1 vaccine is, Bremby said.  “We, at KDHE, take the safety of our citizens very seriously and have closely followed the development and testing of the H1N1 vaccine.”

“The H1N1 vaccines are being made using the same processes used for making the seasonal flu vaccines, which have a long record of producing safe seasonal influenza vaccines,” said Dr. Eberhart-Phillips.  “It is critical that we vaccinate as many Kansans as possible against this potentially dangerous new virus.”

CDC has reported that they expect any serious side effects following the H1N1 vaccine would be rare. The types and frequencies of side effects from the 2009 H1N1 vaccine will likely be similar to those experienced following seasonal influenza vaccines which are mild, localized reactions.

The CDC and the FDA closely monitors the safety of all vaccines licensed for use in the United States including seasonal influenza vaccines in cooperation with state and local health departments, healthcare providers and other partners.

Additional special monitoring is occurring to assure that any unexpected rare side effects of the 2009 H1N1 vaccine are detected as soon as possible.

Though H1N1 influenza is a serious disease, it’s important not to forget the risks posed by seasonal influenza virus. Individuals, especially those at high risk for serious complications and their close contacts, are encouraged to get their seasonal flu vaccines now or as soon as vaccine is available in their communities.

“Although much of the focus has been on the H1N1 virus, it is critical for Kansans to get their seasonal influenza vaccine,” said Dr. Eberhart-Phillips. “The seasonal influenza virus is still expected to circulate in Kansas and the United States this fall and winter along with the H1N1 virus.  I encourage Kansans to stay informed and visit www.kdheks.gov/H1N1 to get more information on flu vaccines.”

As with any influenza virus, individuals are encouraged to take the following steps to reduce the spread:

KDHE has established a phone number for concerned Kansans to call with questions about the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus.  The toll-free number is 1-877-427-7317.  Operators will be available to answer questions from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Persons calling will be directed to press “1” on their touch-tone phone to be directed to an operator who can answer questions.

Kansans with questions about the virus can email H1N1fluinfo@kdheks.gov.  Information is also available from KDHE at www.kdheks.gov.

Note to Editors/Reporters:  Please see attached documents: A flow chart of the distribution of vaccine in Kansas and a comparison of H1N1 and seasonal influenza.