Health & Fitness

Timing varies for flu vaccine arrival in state

TOPEKA — The first swine flu vaccinations are expected to arrive in Kansas later than state officials initially had predicted, with the date varying by location.

The Sedgwick County Health Department anticipated that Wichita-area hospitals would receive almost 3,000 doses of the nasal mist H1N1 vaccine by today, spokeswoman Jennifer McCausland said. But Wesley Medical Center officials didn't expect the vaccine to arrive in the area until at least Thursday.

In Topeka, Misty Kruger, a spokeswoman for the Shawnee County Health Department said Tuesday that it probably won't receive the 900 doses it has ordered until next week. Johnson County officials still don't have a firm date for when health care providers will receive their 3,000 doses.

"I believe it is a disappointment," said Lougene Marsh, health director in Johnson County. "There is a great sense of anticipation from the public at large because we've been talking about it so much. They want to know when the vaccine is available so they can be protected."

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment expects the state to receive about 16,700 doses from the first round of vaccine shipments, KDHE spokeswoman Maggie Thompson said. That's about 700 more than originally anticipated.

In Kansas, six people who've contracted the H1N1 virus have died, and cases have been reported in 60 of the state's 105 counties since late April.

KDHE officials predicted last week that the vaccine would arrive within days and that health care providers would start administering it Tuesday or Wednesday. The state's health director also said shipments should arrive at roughly the same time.

The first vaccinations are targeted for health care workers who have direct contact with patients and for children age 2 through 9. Eventually, state officials hope Kansas will receive more than 3 million doses.

Health officials in at least a dozen states, including Oklahoma and Nebraska, reported receiving shipments Monday, and Missouri received its first doses Tuesday.

The vaccine is being delivered by San Francisco-based McKesson Corp., through a contract with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Company spokesman James Larkin said it doesn't discuss the details of specific deliveries and referred questions about the timing of the vaccine's arrival in Kansas to state officials.

"Deliveries are going out based on when the orders were placed by providers," Larkin said.

McCausland said Sedgwick County officials consider the vaccine's arrival in Kansas "right on time." She said the first shipments to the county won't be enough to vaccinate all of the health care workers who need it.