H1N1 flu immunity not guaranteed
People should still be vaccinated even if they believe they've had the H1N1 flu, say North Dakota and Minnesota health officials.
H1N1, also called swine flu, has been widespread in North Dakota and Minnesota communities recently, with North Dakota health officials estimating H1N1 is responsible for more than 90 percent of local flu cases.
If a person has had the H1N1 virus, their body would develop its own antibodies to protect against the virus.
But people won't know for sure whether they had H1N1 - versus the seasonal flu - unless they had a confirmed diagnosis from a state lab in either Minnesota or North Dakota.
"Those are the only people that can truly say they developed some immunity and do not need the vaccination," said Kathy McKay, Clay County Public Health director. "What we're telling people is, unless you have the state-lab confirmed result that you truly had the H1N1 influenza, you still should come and get a vaccination when it becomes available."
State lab tests typically only occur in cases where an individual was hospitalized, McKay said.
Meanwhile, Cass and Clay counties - which host their first H1N1 vaccination clinics for children this week - could receive more vaccine doses within a matter of weeks if national projections stay on track.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday he expects a "significant increase" in availability of the H1N1 vaccine within the next couple of weeks.
"Significantly more vaccine is becoming available. I anticipate that in most states within the next couple weeks, it will seem much more widespread and be much easier than it is now to get vaccinated," Frieden said during a media briefing in Atlanta.
National, state and local health officials are still targeting priority groups for the vaccine, including health care workers, pregnant women and children.
The CDC had more than 22 million doses of vaccine available as of Tuesday, Frieden said. Last week, 14 million doses were available.
More doses could become available locally within a matter of weeks.
Once a state submits an order for vaccines, local providers typically see a week's delay before the doses are delivered, said Ruth Bachmeier, director of Fargo Cass Public Health.
"It will certainly allow us to reach more people in a shorter amount of time," Bachmeier said.
* Fargo-Moorhead: Log on to www.fighttheflu.net, or call Fargo Cass Public Health at (701) 241-1360 and Clay County Public Health at (218) 299-5220.
* In North Dakota: Log on to www.ndflu.com, or call the state's flu hotline at (866) 207-2880.
* In Minnesota: Log on to www.mdhflu.com, or call the state's flu hotline at (866) 259-4655.