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Updated: Monday, 19 Oct 2009, 2:07 PM MDT
Published : Friday, 16 Oct 2009, 7:33 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Hunting down the H1N1 swine flu vaccine is becoming as infectious as the virus as New Mexicans bombard doctor’s offices with phone calls particularly from pregnant women and worried parents of young children.
The first shipment of 14,000 doses of nasal and injectable vaccine is being apportioned among the state's 33 counties, according to the New Mexico Department of Health . More than 1 million doses are expected here by the end of January.
But for now finding the vaccine has not been easy.
A few places in Albuquerque have it although you probably won't get them unless you're already in the hospital.
OB-GYN Tim Hurley said his patient count is in the hundreds with at least 90 percent very eager to get the shot. He gets asked when his office will get the vaccine everyday.
“This year is kind of, 'Where do I get it? When can I get it? How can I get it?'” Hurley said. The state’s method of telling people to call providers is not working, he added.
“It's not a solution for me because I don't have any answers for them because the health department hasn't provided any very specific information on when I can expect to get the flu vaccine that we requested,” Hurley said.
Hurley also said most doctors he knows are in the same situation.
According to the DOH, Bernalillo County has received more than 15,000 doses so far.
“They haven't really told us much of anything other than they got our request and we're in the system,” Hurley said. "That's all we know."
It’s the same story at every Bernalillo County Public Health office. Not one is offering the H1N1 shot yet.
Some Albuquerque hospitals received their second shipment this week. However University of New Mexico Hospital's 200 shots were given to the infant care clinic and maternity ward.
Presbyterian’s 500 shots will go to priority patients in the hospital and to hospital workers. Lovelace Health officials said they haven't gotten a single dose.
Hurley said he is worried the vaccine is taking too long to reach enough patients to be effective.
“We're already getting a lot of phone calls of patients
who have flu symptoms,” Hurley said.
For now all he can do is to sit and wait.
KRQE News 13 did one Public Health Office in Albuquerque has small amount of nasal spray left for young children. Pregnant women and children with serious health problems can only take the shot, not the nasal spray.
The DOH told News 13 it has sent the vaccine to more than 600 doctor's offices and hospitals and that there is no way to provide a list of all of them to the public.