Ventura County received the first shipment of its 115,500 doses of H1N1 swine flu vaccine early Tuesday morning, public health officials said.
The first doses will be distributed to doctors and clinics for people with the greatest need, particularly children who are disabled and chronically ill, said Dr. Robert Levin, the county’s public health officer.
The next to receive the shots will be children from the ages of 2 to 10, and anyone from 2 to 49 who has contact with infants under 6 months.
The vaccine available now is from a live virus, which means it’s not approved for use in children under 2 or adults over 49. A vaccine from the killed virus should be available later for people in other age groups, Levin said.
The county isn’t planning public shot clinics for H1N1, as it does for the regular seasonal flu. But if mass vaccinations become necessary the county can set up the clinics quickly, Levin said.
He made the comments Tuesday while addressing the county Board of Supervisors.
So far, the news about swine flu has been good, Levin said. The winter flu season in the Southern Hemisphere did not bring either a dangerously mutated virus or one that’s resistant to vaccine.
“We’re in as good a shape as possible for the return of this virus,” Levin said.
H1N1 remains no more dangerous than the typical flu virus, he said. However, that doesn’t mean it’s completely harmless; the flu contributes to about 36,000 deaths a year in the United States, which translates to an average of 98 per year in Ventura County, Levin said.
County gets first shipment of swine flu vaccine