Minnesota Department of Health flu hotline – FAIL

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The Star Tribune cheerfully headlined “Finally, H1N1 vaccine a click away” and continued:

Looking for an H1N1 shot?

Now you can find one by entering your ZIP code on a state public health website.

Only problem: it’s not true. The http://www.mdhflu.com website lists NO H1N1 vaccine clinics within 30 miles of Minneapolis or St. Paul. None. Not a single one.

So here’s the progress on finding H1N1 vaccines for people at risk: Two weeks ago, MDH was withholding all information about where you could get an H1N1 flu shot, theoretically because the public could not be trusted with that information. Now MDH says they will give the information to the public, but their website doesn’t have accurate or current information. Progress?

There are clinics offering H1N1 vaccine, but I’m not sure where all of them are. An intensive web search turned up the Hennepin County website listing a couple of December clinics. They’re suburban locations, but well within the 30-mile radius. Some college campuses are offering H1N1 vaccines to their students, though others are still waiting for the vaccine, according to MPR. And there are other clinics, but which ones and where they are remain a mystery.

Supplies of the vaccine are still scarce – news reports from various sources say that Minnesota has received about a million doses, but that about 2.7 million are needed to meet the demand for at risk groups.

The vaccine is still limited to people at risk. That group now includes anyone between six months and 24 years of age, people who live with or care for children under six months of age, people older than 25 who have chronic health conditions, and health care providers.

MPR reports that some clinics have surplus H1N1 vaccine and are vaccinating non-high-risk patients.

Minnesota Public Radio News has learned of at least five cases where H1N1 vaccine was offered to patients, even though the individuals did not fall into any of the high-risk categories for priority vaccination. Four of the cases occurred at two different clinics southeastern Minnesota and one case was in St. Paul.

MPR didn’t name the clinics, but it quoted MDH spokesperson Kris Ehresman:

So far, there’s only enough vaccine for less than half of Minnesota’s estimated 2.7 million residents who are in high-risk categories. Ehresmann said she’s heard from many metro-area counties where demand for vaccine is still very high and the supply is very short.

She said any clinic that has excess vaccine should share its doses with other clinics.

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