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H1N1 Questions and Answers: High-Risk Priority Groups
Which individuals are in priority groups, and who is making this decision?
There is currently a national shortage of H1N1 vaccine, and, unfortunately, there is not enough vaccine being distributed in western Washington to meet everyone's needs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has established priority groups to help people at highest risk for complications of H1N1 get the vaccine. Right now, they are directing distributors, like Virginia Mason Medical Center, to only vaccinate those in the following groups:
- Pregnant women (injectable vaccine only)
- People who live with or care for children ages 6 months or younger
- Health-care and emergency care workers involved in direct patient care
- Children and young adults ages 6 months to 24 years
- People ages 25 to 64 years old who have weakened immune systems or chronic health conditions
Those who are not in a priority group are asked to wait until more vaccine is available.
We understand that prioritizing individuals is frustrating. We anticipated having adequate vaccine by this time. As this is not the case, we will follow CDC guidelines and provide vaccine to those who are in the priority groups and are at the highest-risk for complications from the flu.
Why are those who are 65 years of age and older not included in the priority groups for H1N1 vaccine?
If you are 65 years of age and older, it's likely that you have been exposed to several outbreaks of flu similar to H1N1 and that you have developed some immunity to the virus.
Why are health-care workers included in the priority groups?
Health-care workers come into contact with many patients every day and are at high risk of contracting the H1N1 virus and spreading it to their patients. It's important to vaccinate these individuals so they don't spread the virus in areas where they often care for the most vulnerable populations.
Where can I get the latest information on who can get the vaccine?
Our commitment to you is to provide you with information as soon as we get notice. Please check VirginiaMason.org or call (888) 625-5515 for the latest updates. These resources are updated daily, and sometimes more often than that. We recommend them as the primary way to learn about H1N1 availability.