The largest shipment of swine flu vaccines to date has arrived in San Francisco, though the allotment is smaller than expected and could mean long lines at vaccination clinics scheduled to open Thursday.
The shipment came after President Barack Obama late last week declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency.
The federal government has provided around 28,000 doses of the injectable H1N1 vaccine to The City’s Department of Public Health.
The City originally expected to receive 100,000 doses by mid-October, and around 30,000 each week thereafter. Shipments were delayed due to production and distribution issues, city officials have said.
Public Health Director Mitch Katz said Monday he is unsure when another shipment of injectable vaccines will arrive.
Kaiser Permanente recently received its own allotment of the vaccines and began administering them to patients Friday, Katz said.
Previous to the latest shipment, San Francisco received and doled out 7,000 doses of the nasal spray to children 5 years and older.
However, the nasal spray is not safe for some of the most susceptible groups: pregnant women and people with chronic health problems.
Mayor Gavin Newsom said Monday that he and his wife were among those to receive the nasal spray vaccine last week.
The injection doses that have just arrived are being administered Monday to at-risk residents who “already get their health care at public health clinics,” according to the Mayor’s Office.
At-risk groups include pregnant women, anyone from 6 months to 24 years of age, health care and emergency responders, and adults between 25 and 64 with medical conditions that put them at risk for life-threatening illnesses.
“This particular flu, H1N1, for the vast majority of people is a mild illness — more mild than traditional flu,” Katz said. “The problem is that one in 1,000 people will become gravely ill. We need to help that one in 1,000.”
Those who do not receive regular care from DPH or whose primary care provider does not have the vaccine will be able to visit one of
10 vaccination clinics that will open in various locations around The City starting Thursday.
There is concern that those clinics will be overwhelmed with requests for the vaccines. The City needs up to 180,000 doses to cover all San Franciscans who are at high risk of contracting swine flu, health officials said.
To prevent long lines, city officials are asking those interested in receiving the vaccines to make certain their primary provider doesn’t have the H1N1 vaccine before visiting a clinic.