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Vaccines for the H1N1 swine flu should start arriving next week, but supplies are smaller than state health officials had expected.
Health officials unveiled details of their preparedness plans Wednesday at a conference in Worcester, and they said there are more than 20,000 cases of swine flu in Massachusetts since the virus emerged five months ago.
Health officials said they should receive 36,800 doses by next week. Gov. Deval Patrick said that first batch of inoculations will go to health workers, pregnant women, children between the ages of six months to four years, and children between five and 19 who have health conditions that might complicate the flu strain, including asthma and diabetes.
"We expect weekly shipments of the vaccine thereafter with widening availability as we go forward," Patrick said. "And the distribution of the vaccines will be done in a way to maximize the effectiveness of the vaccine."
Health officials said the state would receive 1.1 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine by early November and another 700,000 in December. That is less than half of the 4 million doses the state was supposed to get from the federal government.
Still, Patrick said the state is prepared for any possible outbreak. He said more people will be allowed to administer swine and seasonal flu vaccines, including dentists and third- and fourth-year medical students.
"This is a significant step in preparing for flu season because we will have two different strains of flu, and we will need as many people as possible able to vaccinate others in their communities," Patrick said.
So far, 11 deaths in Massachusetts have been attributed to the swine flu.
This program aired on October 1, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.
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