Free and Easy

Article Published: Nov. 19, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Free and Easy

H1N1 vaccines are free and plentiful and health officials are encouraging people to get vaccines in advance of the regular flu season.

"We are getting more and more shipments in every week," said Jennifer Greene, health educator for the Watauga Health Department. "We are vaccinating all the people in the priority groups now."

Because of the frequency of shipments as well as current quantities in stock, the health department is following Centers for Disease Control guidelines for vaccinating priority groups.

Those include pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months, healthcare and emergency medical services personnel, people between 6 months and 24 years old, and adults ages 25 through 64 with chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.

Both the nasal H1N1 vaccine and injection H1N1 vaccine are available, but children under two years of age may only receive the H1N1 vaccine injection. There is currently no charge at the health department for H1N1 vaccine for anyone, Greene said.

Local providers of H1N1 vaccine, as listed with the Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence on Wednesday, include the health department, CVS Pharmacy on N.C. 105 and, Walgreens on Blowing Rock Road in Boone.

Children six months through nine years need two doses of the vaccine, and children 10 and older and adults need one dose of the vaccine. If taking the nasal vaccine for seasonal flu and H1N1 flu, there is a four-week waiting period in between the vaccines.

"The rate at which we are successful in vaccinating high risk groups against H1N1 flu now will determine the impact of additional cases of it in the next wave of H1N1 flu cases we will see this season," said Appalachian District Health Department director Danny Staley. "By vaccinating more people, we are protecting those who are vaccinated and we are protecting others by preventing the initial spread of the virus."

During the week of Nov. 1-7, 2009, influenza activity remained high in the United States, with some key indicators decreasing slightly and others continuing to climb as reported in FluView. Flu activity is widespread in 46 states, including North Carolina.

For more information about H1N1 or seasonal flu, contact the Watauga County office of the Appalachian District Health Department at (828) 264-6635. Vaccine clinics are held during regular business hours from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. The health department is located in the Watauga County Human Services Complex on the Poplar Grove Connector in Boone.

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