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First shipment of H1N1 vaccine will be offered to pregnant women

Duke is offering a limited amount of injectable H1N1 vaccine to high-risk groups within the Duke community.

Priority for the first doses of the vaccine will be given to pregnant University employees, students and hospital patients, in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the North Carolina State Health Department. An e-mail was sent to the Duke community Sunday afternoon informing recipients of the vaccine’s limited availability.

Pregnant students and employees can receive the vaccine starting today through employee health or their Duke University Health System Ob/Gyn provider, according to the e-mail. Unlike the inhalable FluMist, which is not recommended for pregnant women, the injection is projected to have a safety record similar to that of the seasonal flu vaccine.

Dr. Bill Purdy, executive director of Duke Student Health, said Student Health will receive few doses to administer to students, but is unclear on the exact number.

“We will get some, but we don’t expect a lot because we don’t really follow pregnant women,” he said. “But we’ll have some in case there are some [pregnant] students who haven’t signed up with an Ob/Gyn.”

According to the CDC Web site, pregnant women are at a higher risk for serious illness and death from contracting H1N1, commonly known as swine flu.

Purdy said any additional vaccine would be distributed to other high risk groups—such as front-line health care providers and people under 25—according to CDC guidelines.

“I think there should be enough [to cover pregnant women],” he said. “We’ll hopefully get more within the next week or so, but nobody really knows—it’s a strange situation.”

The e-mail sent to the Duke community stated more updates will follow as the University receives more shipments of the H1N1 vaccine.

Student Health will be notified of additional shipments of the vaccine a day or two prior to their arrival, Purdy said.

“We just have to make the best of it,” he said.

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