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Swine Flu Vaccinations On The Way

States are expected to begin ordering their share of the nation's H1N1 flu vaccine on Wednesday, said Paul Jarris, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. That day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brings its secure ordering site online.

Distribution of the vaccine is expected to start sometime in the first two weeks of October, starting with 6 million to 7 million doses of the nasal spray vaccine, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday. Forty million doses of injectable vaccine are due to arrive soon after, with another 10 million to 20 million doses due weekly.

The U.S. government has purchased a total of 250 million doses of vaccine from five makers. Vaccine will go to four distribution centers owned by the health care service company McKesson. The vaccine will be shipped to roughly 90,000 vaccination sites at hospitals, clinics, public health departments, schools, pharmacies and stores nationwide, Sebelius said.

The federal government this month allotted $900 million to the states to help them prepare to distribute the vaccine and make sure it gets to those who need it most, including pregnant women, health workers, young people and parents and caregivers of infants younger than 6 months.

The CDC plans to announce further details about the distribution today, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said. The vaccine is expected to be distributed based on state populations, Skinner said. For example, California has 11.9% of the U.S. population so it will get 11.9% of the vaccine, says John Talarico, California's Immunization Branch chief.

The federal government is recommending that states ask those who want to be vaccinated to 'self verify' that they are in a high-risk group, Talarico said.

But no one will be barred at the clinic door, said Kristen Ehresmann, director for infectious disease in Minnesota. "We don't want to be the vaccine police. Our goal is to make sure that those (most at risk) are first in line, because the expectation is going to be that everyone's going to get vaccinated in the end."

The vaccine is free, as the federal government purchased it, but clinics can charge a fee to administer the vaccine. Sebelius said that providers are being urged to waive their fees to eliminate "financial barriers to vaccination."

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