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Cox Hospital H1N1 Flu Vaccine Policy Gives Priority to Certain Patients

For many hospitals the H1N1 flu vaccine can be something that is in one day, and out the next. That’s why hospitals such as Cox Health in Springfield are making lists to determine who is first in line to receive the vaccine. KSMU’s Adam Hammons reports.

The process for determining who gets a flu vaccine first, and who gets it last can be a very tough one. So, Cox Health went to an outside organization called ACIP, or the advisory committee on immunization practices, that had experience in the process.Eventually it was decided that people who wanted the vaccine would be separated into groups. Dan Sontheimer, the Vice President for Medical Affairs at Cox Health, explains.“As people call in for H1N1, [we] just get some basic demographic information in order to classify them into one of those groups.”Sontheimer went on to say that these groups were mainly based on the risk that the person would get the virus, or pass it on to others. There were several criteria used to decide which groups would be high priority toreceive the vaccine. Priority is based on risk factors. People age 65 and older were put on the bottom of the list because of a virus half a century ago. “Most likely they saw a virus in 1957 that was very similar to this virus, and therefore they have a native immunity to it. Such that the infections for folks over the ages of 65 get from this version of H1N1 tend to be very mild.” Here is the list from the highest priority to the lowest: pregnant women, people who care for children less than six months, healthcare workers, anyone from six months to 24 years old, 25 to 64 years old who have high risk medical conditions, healthy people age 25 to 64, and then people age 65 and older. For KSMU News, I’m Adam Hammons.