Clinics get more H1N1 vaccinations

CONYERS -- Public health clinics in Rockdale and Newton counties began distributing the injectable H1N1 flu vaccination Monday after running out of a nasal mist version of the vaccine earlier this month.

This time, however, officials with the East Metro Health District, which includes Rockdale, Newton and Gwinnett counties, said they should be able to meet the needs of all residents this flu season.

"This shipment represents a small portion of the overall amount of vaccine we expect to receive over the next few weeks and months," said Dr. Lloyd Hofer, public health director of the East Metro Health District in a printed statement. "It is expected there will eventually be enough vaccine for everyone who wants it."

It took only about two weeks for initial supplies of the H1N1 vaccine to be exhausted when they were made available last month. About 6,000 doses of the nasal spray vaccination were delivered in October for the three counties of the health district.

The latest shipment was 15,200 doses, which was rceived late Friday at the health district offices in Lawrenceville.

The vaccine is being disseminated through the county health department clinics, first responders, major clinics, and some doctor's offices, according to Suleima Salgado, public information officer of the East Metro Health District.

The H1N1 vaccine will be provided at no charge at health department clinics in Conyers and Covington. Persons are encouraged to bring their Medicaid, Medicare, or private insurance cards with them, for proper billing.

The health departments will continue to offer H1N1 vaccinations to those who fall in priority groups as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those groups include all people age 6 months to 24 years; pregnant women; household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age; health care and emergency medical service personnel; and people age 25 through 64 who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza.

Along with the new shipment of vaccination for the H1N1 flu virus, often referred to as swine flu, vaccine doses are also available for the seasonal flu virus.

The health department will be hosting a clinic Saturday to offer the vaccine, after hours, to persons who fall into the priority groups recommended by the CDC. The clinics will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Rockdale County Health Department Clinic, located at 981 Taylor St.

In the meantime, the public is encouraged to continue to follow basic preventative steps to avoid the spread of germs, such as frequently washing of hands, covering the mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, and staying at home when sick, Salgado said.

For more information on vaccine supplies, call 770-339-4260 or visit www.eastmetrohealth.com.