Long-awaited H1N1 vaccine reaches McKinley

The long-awaited arrival of the novel H1N1 flu vaccine finally came Thursday for the University’s McKinley Health Center. But with only 500 vaccination shots available, officials say the number of individuals who can receive the shots is limited.

The limited supply of vaccinations was dropped off by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, according to Dr. David Lawrance, medical director at McKinley.

“”It’s (the vaccinations) been limited to our staff; nursing students started getting it yesterday, medical students can come and get it and we’re going out to them Friday. Pregnant women can come in as well,” Lawrance said.

Lawrance said over 900 individuals have been diagnosed with novel H1N1, or swine flu, at McKinley. The first case was reported on Aug. 24. Within a month, 640 students were diagnosed with the illness.

Unfortunately, McKinley does not know when then next shipment of vaccine will arrive or how much vaccine will be in that shipment, Lawrance said.

“It’s possible (that) any day we’ll get a shipment of some size,” Lawrance said.

Lawrance said there are a few different possibilities as to what will happen next. The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District could drop off all of the 25,000 to 30,000 vaccinations McKinley has requested. The more likely option is that they will drop off 500 to 1,000 doses at a time throughout the season.

The Carle Foundation Hospital has also been fortunate to receive vaccine from the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.

Gretchen Robbins, spokeswoman for the hospital, said they received about six times more vaccine than McKinley did.

“The health department gave us 3,000 doses,” she said. “I’m not certain of exactly how many vaccinations have been distributed, but we think it’s around 2,000.”

Distributed vaccinations were given to community members who responded first to receiving the vaccination as well as high-risk employees of the hospital, Robbins said.

She said she was also unsure about when the next shipment of vaccine would come in.

“We anticipate additional vaccine this week, but it’s still iffy as to whether or not we’ll get it,” Robbins said.

But McKinley and Carle are not the only medical facilities with a limited supply of doses. Hospitals across the state and the nation will face difficulty distributing the vaccine for the general public.

Dr. Patrick Lynch, physician at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital in Elmhurst, Ill., said his hospital is trying to distribute as many vaccinations to as many people as they possibly can.

“I know they’re vaccinating as many people as they can. It’s one of those things that when it’s available they’ll get it out to everybody as soon as they can,” Lynch said.

Lynch also said one positive aspect of the swine flu shot people can look forward to is the fact that it does not hurt as much as the regular flu vaccine injection.

“I got the regular flu shot about two weeks ago, and that one actually hurt. I didn’t feel a thing with this one,” Lynch said.