October 19, 2009

Policy set for H1N1 vaccine

As the first doses of injectable H1N1 vaccine began making their way into the pipeline, Johns Hopkins last week announced its plans for inoculating faculty, staff and students.

In an e-mail explaining the procedures, Provost Lloyd B. Minor said that the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response, which is charged with oversight of pandemic planning for both the university and the health system, has developed “a fair, ethical and equitable policy to help ensure a well-coordinated H1N1 vaccination program.” The policy, he said, was developed over several weeks and included discussions and deliberations with vaccination and public health experts, bioethicists and senior leadership of the institutions.

A multitiered priority vaccination plan will be in effect.

Health care workers in high-risk settings and pregnant women (including pregnant university employees and pregnant eligible students) in their 24th week or later are in the first tier and will be among the first to be offered vaccination.

Also in the first tier are full-time students who are cared for through the student health service located at or sponsored by their school or campus, who are 18 or younger and who have certain major underlying health conditions, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.

The vaccine will be made available to persons in the first tier across all of Johns Hopkins as it becomes available, Minor said. As more doses are received, vaccination will be offered to persons in successively lower tiers, again, across all of Johns Hopkins. Finally, when sufficient doses are in hand, all eligible Johns Hopkins faculty, staff and students, regardless of the tier in which they fall, will be offered immunization, as will eligible family members.

Individual campuses or units of the university will announce the scheduling of vaccination sessions, along with information about which employees or students are eligible at a particular time and other relevant details.

Minor encouraged Johns Hopkins employees and students to learn about the policy and its underlying rationale by visiting the CEPAR Web site at www.insidehopkinsmedicine.org/cepar. The entire vaccination protocol document is linked to that page, which is accessible only from within the Johns Hopkins network.

Minor also strongly urged everyone to get the seasonal flu vaccine, which is already available, as soon as possible. Information on seasonal vaccination sessions for faculty and staff is available at www.hopkinsmedicine .org/hse/occupational_health/flu_campaign .html.

Public health authorities recommend that everyone get both the seasonal and H1N1 vaccines this year.