State Health Department officials say the amount of H1N1 cases across the state has increased exponentially over the past few weeks, and the doses of vaccine arriving in Pennsylvania are beginning to rise.
Since early September, the number of Pennsylvanians diagnosed with influenza has gone from a few hundred to just under four thousand. That rate has skyrocketed in the past two weeks, especially. Acting Physician General Dr. Stephen Ostroff says officials expected the number to go up in the fall, but he’s “especially surprised” at how quickly it’s risen.
Ostroff says the majority of the cases are school-aged children and teenagers.
"This continues to be very much a wave of influenza that affects the very young. About 70 to 75 percent of all of the cases we’ve been seeing are in individuals between the ages of 5 and 24 years of age."
Ostroff says to date, Pennsylvania officials have distributed around 820-thousand vaccines. The commonwealth is expected to receive four to five hundred thousand doses next week and a few hundred thousand doses per week over the coming months.
Deputy Health Secretary Michael Huff says H1N1 vaccines will be distributed on a priority basis over the coming months.
"What we’re trying to do is target those individuals that are in the greatest need. Those people that, again, complications, hospitalizations, those that care for the other sick and individuals in the hospitals."
Though at that rate, the Health Department won’t be able to meet the requested amount of 7 million doses until early winter.