First Posted: 12/8/2009
Only a handful of people showed up to get H1N1 vaccines at the Surry County Human Resources building Tuesday morning, however, state health officials expanded the scope of those who are eligible for the vaccine after the clinic had ended.
Thomas Williams, media relations specialist with the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, said Dr. Jeffrey Engel, the state health director, released more vaccines, which will be available to everyone older than 6 months old.
In many areas of the state, it appears demand for the vaccine by those in the groups initially targeted for vaccination has begun to drop off, Engel said. We now feel comfortable broadening vaccination efforts so anyone who wants the H1N1 vaccine may receive it.
Williams said the H1N1 vaccines were purchased by the federal government, so everyone who goes to the health department or a local medical provider can receive it free of charge.
We ask that they bring any and all insurance. But there is no out-of-pocket cost to the general public, he said.
H1N1 vaccines were offered to students at Surry Community College yesterday afternoon.
The vaccines offered at yesterdays clinic were only available to those who fell into target groups of pregnant women; people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age; healthcare workers; people between 6 months and 24 years old; and adults ages 25 to 64 years with a chronic illness like asthma or lung disease.
H1N1 Flu Mist vaccine is still available to anyone from 2 to 49 years old.
Williams said the health and nutrition center is working diligently to get into local school systems.
We are looking to get consent forms from parents in the next few days. Now that more vaccine is available, that should be happening in the very near future, Williams said.
The state has received more than two million doses of H1N1 vaccine. The vaccine has been distributed to healthcare providers in every county across North Carolina. State health leaders are working with county health departments to assess supply and demand in specific areas of the state. The state will assist in transporting vaccines from any areas that report having an excess of vaccine to those that may need more.
As we enter this new phase, it is important for people to remember that we are still in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, Engel said. While the number of cases may be going down, the rate of influenza illness is still high, and we can expect another wave of influenza as we reach the peak of the regular flu season. If you have not yet been vaccinated, we urge you to do so.
Until now, the vaccination efforts focused on five specific groups of people, such as school-aged children and pregnant women, who were more vulnerable to bad health outcomes if they contracted the flu, or to those who cared for people who were more at risk. While the 2009 H1N1 vaccine will now be available to almost everyone, it is important to remember that it still should not be given to infants under 6 months of age.
We are anticipating getting more vaccines prayerfully by next week.
Williams encouraged people to call the 401-9000 information line, or the 401-8400 automated system, for more information on when the vaccines are available.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.