Health officials consider making H1N1 vaccine more widely available

San Diego County health officials are considering making the H1N1 flu vaccine available to a wider range of residents next month amid fears that cold weather, holiday travel and seasonal gatherings could trigger a wave of infections, it was reported Wednesday.

So far, due to limited supply, inoculations have been available only to people in five high-priority groups: pregnant women, health care workers, adults with certain pre-existing health conditions, youths age 6 months to 24, and caregivers for babies under 6 months old.

A change in the county’s vaccination policy would open H1N1 inoculation to healthy adults ages 25 to 64, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Seniors are excluded from getting the shots because medical experts believe many elderly people have some immunity to swine flu resulting from exposure to a related strain of influenza in their youth.

More than 833,000 doses of the so-called swine flu vaccine have been delivered to the county since October. An additional 89,000 shots have been ordered.

On Tuesday, county health officials started returning nearly 2,200 of the delivered doses after tests indicated that some pre-filled syringes designed for young children could lose some of their original strength. According to federal health officials, the recalled doses are safe and children who have already received the shots don’t need to be inoculated again.