By Valerie Bauman, Associated Press Writer
Now that the initial shortage of swine flu vaccine has eased, all New Yorkers age 6 months and older are eligible to get vaccinated, Gov. David Paterson said Thursday.
Health officials had been giving priority to certain groups, including pregnant women, health care workers, those between the ages of 4 and 24. The clinics also had been vaccinating adults with underlying medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart and lung conditions or a weakened immune system, that can make the flu even more dangerous.
New York got only about 23 percent of its anticipated supply of the H1N1 virus vaccine in October, the first month it became available.
The state is now getting weekly vaccine shipments that are double the volume of earlier allocations.
So far, New York has received more than 5 million vaccine doses, including more than 3 million doses for areas outside of New York City.
Health officials said the flu is still widespread across the state and they encouraged taking advantage of the change in policy.
“While the flu is very unpredictable, typically we see the most flu activity during the next three months,” said Dr. Richard Daines, commissioner of the state Department of Health. “Getting vaccinated in the next month will provide protection against a possible third wave of the H1N1 flu this winter and spring.”
Swine flu symptoms are indiscernible from regular flu, but it has three characteristics that set it apart and make vaccination especially important, Daines said.
“It’s out of season attack this spring and fall is highly unusual for a flu, the second thing is that it has a predilection for young people and the third one is that — just because we haven’t seen a strain like this in so long — lots and lots of people are susceptible.”
On the Net: www.nyhealth.gov.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.