Health department’s role in H1N1 protection
For the Nevada Appeal
Editor’s Note: This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages throughout the flu season. Readers interested in knowing more about this topic are urged to visit http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu or http://www.flu.gov.
Q: What has our health department done to protect us from H1N1?
A: Carson City Health and Human Services is glad to take this opportunity to report on the status of its H1N1 vaccination distribution in the Carson City area.
Grant money from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention enabled the department to hire temporary nurses and other support personnel to assist. This professional, hard-working group of folks provided the extra horsepower needed to handle the campaign. Since October, more than 22,000 doses have been administered.
Last October, right after the department’s community-wide seasonal flu vaccination clinics (indoor at the senior center and drive-through at the Nevada National Guard), H1N1 vaccine began arriving in Nevada. Availability was limited at first. On the basis of pragmatics and vulnerability, the CDC recommended that people in high priority groups receive vaccinations first.
Because the last thing our community needed was healthcare workers and first responders home sick with the flu, these people were considered high priority. Due to enhanced vulnerability of contracting flu, pregnant women, people 6 months to 24 years, and those 25 to 64 with underlying medical conditions were high priority, too. And because infants under 6 months cannot be vaccinated, people who care for or live with them were considered high priority to build a “cocoon of safety” around the infants. In early December, as vaccine supply increased, people over 64 with underlying medical conditions were added to the list.
CCHHS distributed the earliest vaccine to healthcare workers. Next, every public elementary, middle and high school student in Carson City, Douglas County and Lyon County whose parent authorized it, received vaccination at school. The department held two clinics at each school where children 9 and under were enrolled (these children require two vaccinations, one month apart). Simultaneously, vaccine was provided to the MOMS clinic and to local obstetricians to insure that pregnant women were protected. Nearly every day care center in the three counties was approached, and several of them accepted our offer to hold mini-clinics. Again, with the youngsters under 9, two vaccination clinics were given on site.
While all this outreach was going on, the CCHHS clinic at 900 East Long Street distributed H1N1 vaccinations two days a week for high priority people. With thoughtful planning and the extra staff on board, no one had to wait very long. When the over 64s were included, special clinics were held for seniors.
CCHHS worked hard to get the public protected as expeditiously as possible. Some weeks it was uncertain whether there would be enough vaccine to go around. Sometimes there was barely enough. People in line were patient and respectful. Upon getting their vaccination, they were appreciative. And all along, the goal was making vaccine available to be in peoples’ bodies, not our refrigerators.
As of Dec. 18, we may vaccinate everyone, irrespective of high priority status. Who is left to vaccinate? We do not know the answer. However, Dr. Ann Schuchat, director of CDC Prevention says, “We know from our survey, though, that about half of Americans want to be vaccinated with H1N1 vaccine and at the time of our survey, only about one in three had been able to be vaccinated. What we think that means is that many Americans who still want to be vaccinated have a great chance to in the days ahead.”
On this premise, CCHHS is planning a Community H1N1 Vaccination Clinic at the Carson Mall on 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9. The mall offers a good location, easy access and a warm, comfortable environment for the clinic. Everyone who has not yet been vaccinated is encouraged to come. H1N1 vaccinations are free of charge.
CARSON CITY AREA H1N1 VACCINE CLINICS
NOTE: Carson City Health and Human Services now offers H1N1 vaccine to all persons.
Who: The general public along with all priority groups
Where: Carson City Health and Human Services, 900 East Long St., Carson City
When: 1-4:30 p.m. Mondays; and 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m. Thursdays
Who: The general Public
Where: Carson Mall, 1313 South Carson St., Carson City
When: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9
• Small Blessings Day Care (2nd Dose): Jan. 4
• Kids Klub Day Care (2nd Dose): Jan. 4
• ABC Learning Center (2nd Dose): Jan. 4
• Little Knights and Maidens Day Care (2nd Dose): Jan. 5
• Wilseya 4 Fun Day Care (2nd Dose): Jan. 5
Some physicians and health care providers in the community have received supplies of the vaccine. People who fall into the priority groups can contact their health care provider to see if the vaccine is available.
• Pam Graber is the public information officer at Carson City Health and Human Services.