Sasha is 8; Malia is 11. And they’ve had their swine flu shots.
The White House got so many questions about the status of the First Family’s H1N1 vaccination status that they posted the answer on their website Tuesday. Both girls were vaccinated last week by the White House doctor, who followed the same protocol for applying for the vaccine through the District of Columbia Department of Health that other vaccination sites had followed. The web site said that the girls got their shots when “the vaccine became available to Washington, D.C. schoolchildren.”
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have not yet received the H1N1 vaccine. “They will wait until the needs of the priority groups identified by the CDC – including young people under the age of 24, pregnant women, and people with underlying conditions – have been met,” the web site says. The entire family did receive their seasonal flu shots.
The First Family did what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control wants people across the country to do: get their vulnerable populations vaccinated first. Because this flu originally jumped from pigs to humans, children have virtually no immunity from it; since April, 95 children have died from H1N1, and another 7 died from flu that was not categorized, according to the CDC’s Situation Update page. Pregnant women, whose immunities are somewhat compromised and whose lung capacity is diminished by the growing fetus, are four times more likely to be hospitalized with H1N1 than the general population and even have a higher death rate, according to a CNN report.
OK, you say. I get it. And I want my kids vaccinated, but I can’t get the shots yet and it's making me crazy!
You’re not alone. The reported incidences of the flu are increasing by the week, and it seems that the shots are non-existent in many places. Original estimates said that 120 million doses of the vaccine would be available in October; later that was revised to 45 million, and then revised downward again. “We’re in a race between vaccine and virus," Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University Medical Center told CBS News. "This gives the virus a bit more of an advantage.”
The good news, and there is some, is that H1N1 vaccine production jumped last week. On Tuesday, CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said that millions of new doses had arrived at federal quality-control warehouses and were ready to be sent overnight to community vaccine centers. And his advice to doctors and health departments distributing the shots is this: “Give it out as soon as it comes in, because more is on the way.”
So how do you find out if the swine flu vaccine is available in your area?
Try this, on a daily basis if you need to. But be kind -- the health workers you're talking to are just trying to manage the situation the best they can:
1. Call your family doctor’s office.
2. Call your county health department. If you don’t know the phone number, just type the name of your county, your state and “Health Department” into Google Maps.
3. If you have children at a college or university, call their campus health department to find out the status for vaccines for students.
4. Call a local drugstore that has a medical clinic inside, such as CVC or Walgreens, and ask them what their status is.
In the meantime, don’t panic. Get your information from solid sources – The CDC’s page is updated daily. Teach your kids to sneeze or cough into their elbows and to wash their hands as often as they can. And keep an eye on President and Mrs. Obama, because by the time they get vaccinated, all our priority groups should be taken care of.
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