JACKSON, Miss. — The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) announces the availability of the 2009 H1N1 (swine flu) injectable vaccine to all designated priority groups. The groups are as follows:
- pregnant women;
- children and adults six months through 24 years of age;
- those living with or caring for an infant less than six months of age;
- healthcare and emergency medical services providers; and
- those 25 through 64 years of age who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk for influenza-related complications.
Also, nasal mist vaccine is now available at county health departments for all Mississippians between the ages of two and 49 years who have no chronic underlying health conditions. Both the injectable vaccine and the nasal mist vaccine are free at county health departments. Some private providers also have the 2009 H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine available.
So far, 574,700 swine flu doses have been allocated for Mississippi schools, county health departments and private providers. Of those doses, 435,600 are injectable vaccine and 139,100 are nasal mist vaccine. Individual county doses are based on population.
Over the past several weeks, MSDH and private providers throughout the state have been working to "adopt" schools in order to vaccinate Mississippi students. Currently, 440 schools have been adopted by MSDH, and 576 have been adopted by private healthcare providers. The vaccinations of the nearly 500,000 school-aged children in Mississippians are expected to take several weeks to complete.
Swine flu antiviral medications are available free of charge for uninsured and underinsured Mississippians who have been diagnosed with swine flu. These antivirals will only be available through a prescription from a medical doctor. MSDH has entered into agreements with selected pharmacies throughout the state to help distribute Tamiflu® and Relenza® from the state and federal stockpiles to patients who cannot otherwise afford them.
In order to receive these free medications, the patient must bring a prescription for the medication and a signed document from their healthcare provider indicating which high risk group the patient belongs. The healthcare provider will refer patients who qualify to participating pharmacies.
Until swine flu vaccinations become available to the general public, MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Mary Currier recommends getting a seasonal flu shot for protection from seasonal influenza. Also, continue using basic prevention methods including washing your hands frequently or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, coughing or sneezing into your sleeve, or coughing into a tissue followed by hand washing, and avoiding close contact with those who are sick. If you are ill, stay home until you are well, unless you need to see a doctor, in which case call first to prevent possible transmission in the doctor's waiting area.
For more information on swine flu or the availability of free antiviral medications, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com or call the toll-free MSDH flu hotline at 1-877-222-9FLU. The hotline hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except state holidays. To receive updates on Twitter, visit the MSDH H1N1 swine flu page to sign up as a follower.