Skip to Content

Where's My Vaccine?

Limited supplies mean longer waits for educators and non-priority groups.

By Nora Howley, NEA Health Information Network

First, the good news: Vaccines for the flu are coming. H1N1 and seasonal flu will each have their own vaccines, and the seasonal flu vaccine will be available to all who wish to receive it. The not-so-good news is that the vaccine for H1N1 isn’t expected to be ready until mid-October, and there may not be enough for everyone.

The CDC has created two lists of priority groups for the H1N1 vaccine. The first list is based on vaccinations being available in sufficient quantities. The second list is based on a limited supply.  Both lists focus on those who are most at risk of infection and serious complications.

Who’s missing?

 Priority Groups (sufficient supply)

• Pregnant women
• Household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age
• Health care and emergency medical services personnel
• All people from 6 months through 24 years of age
• Persons aged 25 through 64 years who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza.

Priority Groups (limited supply)

• Pregnant women
• Household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age
• Health care and emergency medical services personnel with direct patient contact,
• Children 6 months through 4 years of age, and
• Children 5 through 18 years of age who have chronic medical conditions.
Teachers and education support professionals as an occupational group are not considered a priority group for the special H1N1 vaccine. The CDC also states that once priority groups have been vaccinated, public health officials should make the vaccine available to the population at large, starting with people between the ages of 25 and 64 and followed by those over 65. (Current studies indicate that those over the age of 65 are less at risk of infection than younger people).

The NEA and the NEA Health Information Network have participated in a number of CDC vaccination committees and meetings to address concern that school employees, as a group, are not included on priority lists. Public health officials recognize the concerns of educators, but also need to address the greater risk for the populations identified. By preventing the spread of H1N1 among the most susceptible — youth and individuals at high risk — adults and those otherwise healthy individuals will also be protected.

So what can educators do? Regardless of your age you should get your seasonal flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available to reduce the risk of succumbing to the seasonal flu. If you fall into one of the other high-risk groups, you should ensure that you receive the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available.  That would mean receiving two vaccines this winter: the seasonal flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine. Information on availability of the H1N1 vaccine will be updated on the NEA HIN Web site,  as well as at flu.gov.

For updates on the status of available vaccinations for H1N1 and distribution information, check back with the Centers for Disease Control Web site.


RELATED ITEMS