Health Departments Get H1N1 Vaccine

By: Stephen Bowers Email
By: Stephen Bowers Email

The swine flu continues to be a problem for the state of Mississippi with more than 1,200 cases reported.

But a limited number of vaccines are now available at county health departments in the state.

The amount is not as much as health officials were expecting, but they say it's a start.

Over 223,000 vaccinations have been sent to Mississippi, and about 55,000 vaccinations have been sent to Alabama.

"Because it's coming in slowly, in bits and pieces, we're trying to prioritize the highest-risk folks for hospitalization and death," said Mississippi district health officer Dr. Rebecca "Tree" James.

Right now vaccinations are available for women who are pregnant, as well as children 6 months to 4 years old and anyone living with or caring for infants less than 6 months of age.

Health care workers, and anyone with other medical conditions between 5 and 18 years of age are also eligible for the first round of vaccinations.

"We get more vaccine each week," said James. "They just can't tell us how much we'll get each week, so we're starting. Now that we've got it we're going ahead and starting."

After the highest risk groups are vaccinated and more vaccination becomes available, clinics can start vaccinating others. But what if you have concerns about the vaccination?

"The concerns that people are batting around have never been proven to be a problem, James said. "This vaccine is prepared in exactly the same way as the regular seasonal flu vaccine. It was just prepared at a different time."

You'll still have to pay the regular price for seasonal flu vaccinations, but H1N1 vaccines will be made available free of charge at county health clinics and at some schools.

Permission forms will be sent home with students when those vaccinations are available.

There have been more than sixty confirmed cases of swine flu in the 5-county east Mississippi area, according to the state health department. But authorities say it's likely higher, since every flu case is not tested.

Clarke - 22
Kemper - 6
Lauderdale - 15
Neshoba - 17
Newton - 6

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