One of the two H1N1 flu vaccines is readily available in DeKalb County, however, folks aren’t converging en masse on health clinics for it.
Some 4,000 doses of the nasal spray known as live attenuated influenza vaccine for H1N1 flu (also known as swine flu) arrived at DeKalb’s five Board of Health (BOH) clinics in early October, but so far 350 to 400 doses have been distributed, according to BOH spokeswoman Vickie Elisa.
“It’s definitely slow,” said Elisa.
The nasal spray vaccine is specifically for healthy persons between 2 and 49, she said.
Elisa said that people don’t seem to be taking concern for the seasonal flu or the H1N1 flu seriously and that there’s a great deal of misinformation about the flu and the vaccines.
“There’s a lot of misinformation,” said Elisa, noting that the process of making these vaccines is the same as for other flu vaccines. “People don’t feel they are at risk.”
“It’s here,” said Elisa of the H1N1 virus. “It’s here. There’s no way to say you’re avoiding it.”
There have been two deaths in DeKalb County related to the flu in the last 30 days—both were pregnant women. One had H1N1 flu and the other seasonal flu. The babies from both women were delivered alive, Elisa said.
She emphasized the importance of pregnant women receiving the H1N1 vaccine and said that everyone should also get seasonal flu shots.
The other vaccine—an injectable kind that doesn’t contain any element of the live virus—has not yet arrived at the clinics. The DeKalb BOH requested a total of 800,000 doses of both vaccines but doesn’t know how much it will receive of the injectable vaccine and when it will arrive, Elisa said. These H1N1 vaccine shots are recommended for anyone with compromised immune systems—individuals with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, etc.
The nasal spray vaccine is available at the five BOH facilities: Clifton Springs in Decatur, East DeKalb in Lithonia, Kirkwood in Atlanta, North DeKalb in Chamblee and T.O. Vinson in Decatur.
Walk-in service is available at all the BOH centers, Monday through Friday between 8:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. For specific information about vaccine locations, call (404) 294-3700 or visit www.dekalbhealth.net. There is no charge to persons getting their flu shots at BOH clinics, however, an administrative fee may be charged through Medicare, Medicaid, and third-party insurance.
Some doctors’ offices, pharmacies and other clinics also have the vaccines, however, its availability is spotty. The Champion accessed a list of some 62 providers in a 10-mile radius of its office in downtown Decatur. However, a random call to 15 of those providers found that only three had the H1N1 vaccine and the others were waiting for it to arrive. The administrative fee these providers were charging or planning to charge for the vaccine varied widely from $5 to $35.
The allocations the state has received thus far have been small in comparison to the number of providers registered to administer the vaccine, according to a press release from the Georgia Department of Community Health. “This is why it is so important for anyone wishing to receive the vaccine to contact his or her family doctor’s office or health care provider before making an appointment or traveling to the provider’s office.”
The Georgia Department of Community Health has a Web site, http://sendss.state.ga.us/sendss/!immuprov_track.h1n1_prov_locator, which lists doctor’s offices pharmacies and other clinics that have agreed to administer the vaccines. By entering a zip code and a distance parameter, one can access a list of providers.