First H1N1 vaccines depleted

COVINGTON - Health departments in Newton and Rockdale counties are already out of initial supplies of the H1N1 vaccine, a spokeswoman for the East Metro Health District said.

It took only about two weeks for supplies to be exhausted, said Suleima Salgado, public information officer of the East Metro Health District. More vaccines are expected, but when is unclear.

"We have no idea. It could be today, tomorrow, next week or next month," she said.

About 6,000 doses were supplied to the East Metro Health District and were distributed to Newton, Rockdale and Gwinnett health departments based on population.

A special health clinic held Saturday proved especially popular, with more than 1,900 doses being provided in the three counties - 420 were administered in Rockdale and 70 in Newton.

Additional doses of the vaccine are expected to become more widely available at health clinics, doctors' offices, walk-in clinics, pharmacies and other community sites within the next few weeks and months.

Once the additional vaccines arrive, the health departments will continue to offer them 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.

Additional Saturday clinics may be offered once more vaccines arrive, Salgado said. In the meantime, the public is encouraged to continue to follow basic preventative steps to avoid the spread of germs, such as frequently washing 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.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.