11/06/09 — Officials: Vaccines trickling into area

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Officials: Vaccines trickling into area

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 6, 2009 1:46 PM

The Health Department is giving out H1N1 vaccines as quickly as they come in, officials said Thursday.

"As soon as we can get it, we will distribute it to the area providers, medical providers, or we give it ourselves in our own clinic," said James Roosen, health director.

The focus at this point is on those most at risk -- pregnant women, children 6 months old up to 24 years old, and medical providers "because they have so many sick people in front of them in the course of a day," Roosen said.

The Health Department initially requested 30,000 doses. No date has been announced when they will be received, but a mass vaccination clinic for the public is expected once the shipment arrives.

"We are planning soon, don't know when, but they're having meetings about having a mass clinic for H1N1," said Debbie Garner, immunization coordinator.

Right now, the Health Department has small amounts of both vaccines, both injectable and spray mist, for seasonal flu and H1N1.

The Health Department has mainly concentrated on the health care workers, pregnant women and children, giving shots by appointment only. To date, about 200 vaccines have been given, Ms. Garner said.

"What we're trying to do is vaccinate the people considered high risk by the Center for Disease Control," she explained. "Lots and lots of children have come in for this."

The slowed shipment rate is a challenge, Roosen said.

He said his office receives a lot of calls about whether or not the vaccine is available.

Ms. Garner said many of those are from people who do not fall into the age group the H1N1 vaccine targets -- 6 months to 24 years old.

"The problem right now is it's not available to everybody," Roosen said. " We are trying to target the vaccines for those high-risk categories. Then again, we have got about 18 physicians who have reserved H1N1 vaccine and that supply is slowly trickling in. ...

"With H1N1 our main role with public health has been distributing that to area pediatricians, home health, oncologists and other physicians that need it. We will give H1N1 to our high risk patients. We know it's in short supply."

An estimated 600 doses of the H1N1 flu nasal spray were recently distributed to area facilities, Ms. Garner said, among them Goldsboro Pediatrics, Southeastern Medical Oncology, the City of Goldsboro, Goldsboro Ob/Gyn, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Immediate Care and EMS.

Two clinics have also been held for the seasonal flu -- on Oct. 23, 346 shots were given at the Health Department, with a clinic at the middle schools giving out 546 spray mists and 152 injectables, Ms. Garner said. Four other schools with WISH centers, school-based health centers, were also provided with 255 of the mist (spray version) and 110 injectables to distribute to students.

"We're still doing it every day, by appointment," she said of the seasonal vaccines. "But we're running low on that. We're supposed to get another shipment but they haven't come in yet."