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Health departments get flu vaccines

COVINGTON - The Newton and Rockdale county health departments received the first shipments of seasonal flu vaccine Tuesday.

The Newton County Health Department received 1,600 doses, according to a press release issued by the East Metro Health District. Rockdale has received 1,500 doses.

Seasonal flu shots will be given in Newton County from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

In Rockdale, the shots will be given from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

No appointment is necessary.

The seasonal flu vaccine is different from the vaccine for H1N1 pandemic flu, also known as swine flu.

The CDC is recommending that the public get seasonal flu shots early this year. Influenza activity typically begins in October and peaks in January, according to the CDC.

However, health officials are bracing for a resurgence of H1N1 as well, and vaccinations for that virus likely won't be available until mid-October or later.

East Metro Health District Spokesman Vernon Goins said the same companies are producing both vaccines, and the seasonal vaccine was completed first.

"This also explains why the H1N1 vaccine will not be available at the same time as the seasonal flu vaccine so they could be taken concurrently," he said. "The most important message we want to get out is that we don't want the public, especially vulnerable populations, to wait on getting the seasonal flu vaccine. Seasonal flu vaccine is ready and available, and we don't want them to wait until the H1N1 vaccine is ready. That would be mid-October at the earliest, and we don't know if any problems with production might arise between now and then."

The seasonal flu vaccine requires one dose, while H1N1 vaccine requires two doses. It is safe to get both vaccines, Goins said, or to get the H1N1 vaccine even if you have not had the seasonal flu vaccine.

There is expected to be plenty of supply of both vaccines to meet demand, Goins said.

The Newton County Health Department is located at 8203 Hazelbrand Road in Covington. Call 778-786-9086 for more information.

The Rockdale County Health Center is located at 981 Taylor St. in Conyers. For more information, call 770-785-4345.

SideBar: Who should get vaccinated?

Seasonal flu

· Children age 6 months to 19

· Pregnant women

· People age 50 and older

· People with chronic medical conditions

· People in nursing homes or long-term care facilities

· People who live with or care for those at high risk, including heath care workers and parents or caregivers for children under age 6 months.

H1N1

· All people ages 6 months to 24

· Pregnant women

· Household contacts and caregivers for children under age 6 months

· Health care and emergency medical services personnel

· Persons age 25 to 64 who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza