West Central Health expands 2009 H1N1 vaccine priority groups - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

West Central Health expands 2009 H1N1 vaccine priority groups

Press Release

COLUMBUS  - Beginning Friday, the 16 county health departments in West Central Health District will begin offering H1N1 nasal-spray vaccine to healthy children 2 to 17 years old.

The priority group for the 2009 H1N1 Nasal Spray Vaccine is healthy individuals 2 - 49 years of age; people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age; and healthcare and emergency medical services personnel with direct patient contact.

Individuals can contact their local health department to determine if they are eligible to receive the vaccine.

"These are priority groups identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state to be offered the first doses of H1N1 vaccine because they are either at greater risk of complications if they catch the disease or because they have close contact with individuals at risk of complications from it," said West Central Health District Health Director Dr. Zsolt Koppányi. 

Additionally, these groups can also take the nasal-spray flu vaccine, also known as LAIV for   live attenuated influenza vaccine,' which is made with live, weakened flu viruses. It is only for healthy people ages 2 to 49.

"Once we begin receiving H1N1 flu shot vaccine, we will broaden our target groups even more, Koppányi  said. "For example, pregnant women are one of the highest priority groups for H1N1 vaccination, yet they should not receive the nasal-spray form of the vaccine," he said.

Neither should people with asthma or other chronic medical conditions, people who have compromised immune systems or people on certain medications such as steroids.

Koppányi indicates that the "CDC said flu shot vaccine is now being shipped out as well, so we hope to get some soon.  Vaccine is being shipped in small batches, so we are asking the public to continue to be patient as we work through this process. In November, our understanding is that there will be ample supplies of H1N1 vaccine for everyone who wants to get it."

Koppányi urges residents to continue to follow practices that help reduce the spread of infectious disease such as washing your hands or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, covering your cough and staying at home when you are sick, and of course, getting vaccinated against seasonal flu and the 2009 H1N1 flu as vaccine become available.

More information is available by calling local county health departments, by going online to westcentralhealthdistrict.com or by calling the District's pre-recorded Flu Information lines at 706 321-6464 for seasonal flu, or 706 321-6701 for the 2009 H1N1 Flu.

Source: West Central Health District

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