By Hailey Persinger
Killeen Daily Herald
Despite the sooner-than-expected creation of the H1N1 vaccine, some hospitals are still waiting for it to be delivered to their doors.
Several pharmaceutical companies developed a vaccine for the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu, ahead of schedule just before the most recent wave of the virus hit the U.S.
Now, as people with flu-like symptoms fill emergency rooms, hospitals are scrambling to inoculate the healthy against the contagious virus.
As of Tuesday, Texas had received more than 960,000 doses of the vaccine. The state has given top priority to those who serve pregnant women, 2- to 4-year-old children, 5- to 18-year-olds at higher risk of serious consequences from the flu and health care workers who provide direct patient care.
But hospitals cannot give those vaccines until they receive them.
Susan Kolodzijcdyk with Killeen's Metroplex Hospital said Tuesday she expects to receive doses of the vaccine this week but she has not yet seen them or heard of progress in getting them to the facility. She said that while people should not panic, the hospital takes the quickly spreading virus seriously.
"We know what can occur," she said. "We also know that this can affect our staff. Our staff can get just as sick as the rest of the world so that's why we're really waiting on the H1N1 vaccine to get here."
To keep the virus from spreading, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created a system that requires certain measures depending on the amount of cases recorded. Nationwide, the CDC is asking that hospitals require people with "influenza-like illnesses" to wear masks while waiting to be seen.
Hospitals will take additional preventions when 31 to 60 more cases of influenza-like illnesses are seen than average. At that point, flu patients are separated from other patients. The most extreme measures include requirements for every resident – even those outside the hospital – to wear masks.
Since the CDC sets preventative measures, hospitals nationwide are taking the same steps.
Scott Clark with Scott & White Hospital in Temple said the facility is sticking to the measures it has taken since the summer's first outbreak. Though he did not give specifics, next week could hold some changes for the hospital's procedures.
"There's going to be some stuff that we will push out in a week," he said. "We have a set of proposals."
Col. Steven Braverman, commander of Fort Hood's Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, said during a media luncheon Tuesday that it, too, expects a shipment of the vaccine sometime this week. Though the government does not currently require civilians to get vaccinated, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has required it for all servicemembers.
Braverman said that though Darnall has experienced a leveling-off of H1N1 patients, there have been recent reports of an increase in the virus.
"In this community, H1N1 is prevalent," he said.
Though the virus spreads quickly, Central Texas residents should stay calm about its effects, Kolodzijcdyk said.
She said the virus typically becomes fatal only when it results in a respiratory tract infection.
"Watch for the cough," she said. "If that cough sounds very congested and deep, they probably should come into the hospital. But (if it is) normal influenza – you should get lots of fluids, lots of rest and stay away (from the hospital) because all you're going to do is spread more of this and it's just going to continue."
Amanda Kim Stairrett and The Associated Press also contributed to this report.
Contact Hailey Persinger at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568,