JACKSON, Miss. - The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) announces the availability of 2009 H1N1 (swine flu) antiviral medication for uninsured and underinsured Mississippians. These antivirals will only be available through a prescription from a medical doctor. MSDH has entered into agreements with selected pharmacies throughout the state to help distribute Tamiflu® and Relenza® from the state and federal stockpiles to patients who cannot otherwise afford them.
In order to receive these free medications, the patient must bring a prescription for the medication and a signed document from their healthcare provider indicating in which high risk group the patient belongs. The healthcare provider will refer patients who qualify to participating pharmacies.
Swine flu vaccine is now available at all county health department clinics. So far, 373,900 swine flu doses have been allocated to Mississippi. Of those doses, 270,200 are injectable vaccine and 103,700 are nasal mist vaccine.A total of 85,390 swine flu doses of vaccine have been allocated for the county clinics throughout the state. Individual county doses are based on population.
The first injectable vaccine doses at the county clinics are available for those in the following priority groups: pregnant women; children six months through four years of age; and parents, siblings, caregivers and anyone else living in the house with an infant under six months of age. These groups are at the highest risk for complications from influenza. The vaccine is free at all county health departments.
“We really appreciate the patience Mississippians have had in working with us to make sure those with the highest risk of complications receive their vaccinations first. We expect the vaccine to be available for everyone once the priority groups have been vaccinated,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Mary Currier.
MSDH and other private providers are currently working with schools throughout the state to provide vaccinations for students. So far, a total of 51,400 doses of swine flu vaccine have been allocated for the schools. Currently, 422 schools have been adopted by MSDH; 417 have been adopted by private healthcare providers; and 72 schools have adoptions pending. The vaccinations of the nearly 500,000 school-aged children in Mississippians will take several weeks to complete.
For those not in the high priority groups, Dr. Currier recommends getting your seasonal flu shot for protection from seasonal influenza in the meantime. Also, continue using basic prevention methods including washing your hands frequently or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, coughing or sneezing into your sleeve, or coughing into a tissue followed by hand washing, and avoiding close contact with those who are sick. If you are ill, stay home until you are well, unless you need to see a doctor, in which case call first to prevent possible transmission in the doctor’s waiting area.
For more information on swine flu or the availability of free antiviral medications, call the toll-free MSDH flu hotline at 1-877-222-9FLU. The hotline hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except state holidays.To receive updates on Twitter, visit the MSDH H1N1 swine flu page to sign up as a follower.