The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) is expanding H1N1 vaccination after receiving 100,000 additional doses of vaccine. In the coming weeks, the H1N1 vaccine will be available through a variety of venues to all Rhode Islanders who wish to be vaccinated. The delivery of extra doses of vaccine was prompted by HEALTH’s continued requests and by the success of ongoing efforts to vaccinate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Tier I priority (highest-risk) populations in Rhode Island.
“Flu activity in Rhode Island remains high for this time of year, and many Rhode Islanders are at risk for serious illness and complications from H1N1,” said Director of Health David R. Gifford, MD, MPH. “Our goal is to vaccinate half a million Rhode Islanders by Valentine’s Day. Vaccination is the best way for people to protect themselves and their loved ones from the flu. The more people who get vaccinated against H1N1, the less likely it is that we will see a third wave of illness this spring.”
HEALTH is asking healthcare providers enrolled in the vaccine program to continue prioritizing adults through age 64 with chronic medical conditions, young adults through age 24, school-aged children who missed their first doses of vaccine at their schools, and caregivers of infants younger than 6 months old for office-based vaccination. Healthcare providers have been urged to contact their highest-risk patients.
Retail pharmacies enrolled in the H1N1 vaccine program will receive their first deliveries of H1N1 vaccine by the end of this week. These include Rhode Island CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Stop & Shop pharmacies. Over the next few weeks, the vaccine will also be available in some medical offices, including many urgent care centers. Patients or their insurers may be charged a vaccine administrative fee by these providers.
Starting in January, the vaccine will also be available for free in certain venues. HEALTH’s goal is to provide Rhode Islanders with as much access to the vaccine as possible. HEALTH is working with its municipal partners to organize public vaccination clinics in January for uninsured individuals, remaining high-risk individuals, and others, including the elderly, who want to wait to receive the vaccine free of charge.
Healthcare workers and first responders will have the opportunity to be vaccinated for free through their Healthcare Service Regions (HSRs). School-aged children younger than 10 years of age will receive their second doses of H1N1 vaccine in their schools. The second round of school-based clinics will begin the week of January 11, 2010. HEALTH will announce the final schedule of school clinics during the first week of January.
Please regularly check HEALTH’s website, www.health.ri.gov, for the most up-to-date information about H1N1 vaccine availability. For additional information or questions, please contact HEALTH’s H1N1 Information Line at (401) 222-8022.