Seasonal flu shot clinics get boost from H1N1 hype
Carolanne Gillet was so concerned when the H1N1 pandemic broke out that she and her family stopped going places – even church.
“Now we’re taking our chances – with hand sanitizers,” said Gillet, a Penn Valley resident who was waiting in line with her two toddlers Wednesday for a dose of seasonal flu vaccine.
Vaccines for H1N1 or swine flu virus have yet to arrive in Nevada County. Officials will know more about when vaccines will be available in about two weeks, they said. Swine flu vaccines will arrive slowly at first, and priority will go to groups most at risk of complications.
By the end of the year, however, “there will be more than enough (H1N1) vaccine for everyone,” county Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Milman said.
Meanwhile, heightened awareness of the swine flu has prompted more people like Gillet to seek shots for seasonal flu, clinic operators said.
County health officials are encouraging people to get both.
“The anti-virals that work on seasonal flu don’t work on H1N1 and vice versa,” county Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Patti Carter said.
People flowed steadily into the Penn Valley Fire Department on Spenceville Road to receive vaccines against seasonal flu in a Nevada County Public Health clinic.
More clinics are scheduled, including this morning from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the North San Juan community center and a children’s clinic from 1 to 4 p.m. behind the Veterans Memorial Building at 255 S. Auburn St., Grass Valley.
The vaccinations cost $10, but are free to families who cannot afford the fee.
While Gillet said her children got the seasonal vaccine and plan to get the H1N1 vaccine, other parents are wary.
In an Associated Press poll released this week, 38 percent of parents said they would be unlikely to let their children get the H1N1 vaccine at school.
Some parents said they didn’t think H1N1 was any more serious than the seasonal flu, while others voiced concerns about potential side effects of the vaccine.
Swine flu poses greater risks young people, while seasonal flu strains attack older people, Carter said.
Federal health officials say no serious side effects turned up in volunteers – including children – who took the H1N1 vaccine, AP reported.
“We know it’s safe,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Some worry about the use of a small amount of thimerosol, a form of mercury, as a preservative in both seasonal and swine flu vaccines. Some people have linked thimerosol in shots to autism in children, though no studies have proven a connection.
Nevertheless, the swine flu vaccine for children ages 6 months to 2 years and for pregnant women has no thimerosol, Carter said.
It remains unclear what form the swine flu vaccines will take when they do arrive in Nevada County, Carter said.
“We think children 6 months to 9 years will get two shots, while children 10 and above (will get) only one, but it’s not been said officially by the (Centers for Disease Control),” Carter said.
A nasal spray will be available for healthy people 2 to 49 years old, excepting people who are pregnant or have asthma, Carter said.
Young children, pregnant women, health care workers and first responders will be the first groups to have access to vaccines.
“We’re going to be doing school-based clinics and (working with) ob/gyns” throughout Nevada County, Carter said.
Clinics for each target group will be announced in The Union, she added.
“As we get more vaccine, we’ll increase our scope, and by the end of the year, pretty much everyone who wants a vaccine should be able to get one,” Carter said.
Private doctors also can order vaccines and give the shots. People should contact their physicians to find out whether they will make shots available, Carter said.
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