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For H1N1 vaccine, check state, local health departments

Atlanta—For dentists who aren't sure where to get the H1N1 vaccine, the ADA recommends contacting their state or local health department to see where the vaccine is available. They can also check with local pharmacists.

With the case count for H1N1 influenza increasing across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to stress their recommendation of vaccination for priority groups, which includes dentists and health care workers because of their exposure and contact with possibly infected patients.

According to recommendations by the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the CDC Hospital Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee, many health care workers, including dentists, are at risk for exposure to and possible transmission of H1N1, and the vaccine is considered an essential part of prevention and infection control.

Calls to the ADA show that many members aren't sure where or how to get the vaccine.

In Washington state, Dr. Moffett Burgess, chief of dental services for Seattle and King County, said her health department has distributed some of the vaccine to pharmacies to be earmarked for health care providers and has also shipped the vaccine to practices that have requested it for their dental providers. She also said dentists have the option of requesting it from their personal physicians.

"Dental providers are important to the health of our communities and we can't afford for large numbers of them to be sick at once, and it is important to protect their own patients from the spread of this disease," Dr. Burgess said.

The L.A. Times reported Nov. 3 that states such as Ohio, New York and Wisconsin have set aside doses for health care workers. There have been reports of waiting lists for the vaccine and some health professionals have volunteered to administer it as a way of getting it faster. The CDC advises everyone in the at-risk populations to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

"As supplies become more available over the next few weeks it will be easier for the high priority groups, including health care providers, to get vaccine with their health care providers or in other community locations, like pharmacies," Dr. Burgess said.

In addition to health care workers, the CDC advisory committee recommends priority vaccination for the following five target groups:

  • persons who live with or provide care for infants aged under 6 months (e.g., parents, siblings, and daycare providers);
  • health care and emergency medical services personnel;
  • persons aged 6 months-24 years;
  • persons aged 25-64 years who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk for influenza-related complications;
  • pregnant women.

For those providers interested in providing the vaccine, the CDC has a Web page with contact information for individual states at www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/statecontacts.htm.

As part of its outreach effort to the profession on the H1N1 influenza virus (swine flu), the ADA has posted a dental-specific fact page for dentists and dental team members based on information from the CDC.

Visit www.ada.org for up-to-date-information, including frequently asked questions about H1N1.

The ADA also has a topic page at www.ada.org/goto/h1n1.