Clinics get more H1N1 vaccines

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Thousands of doses of swine flu vaccine arrived at the East Metro Health District late Friday and are being distributed with the department's five clinics, first responders, major clinics and other doctors' offices.

The East Metro District serves Gwinnett, Rockdale and Newton counties.

Clinics in Lawrenceville, Norcross, Buford, Conyers and Covington began administering the vaccine Monday.

"This shipment represents a small portion of the overall amount of vaccine we expect to receive over the next few weeks and months," Dr. Lloyd Hofer, East District public health director said. "It is expected there will eventually be enough vaccine for everyone who wants it."

Officials recommend those wishing to be vaccinated bring their Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance cards to ensure proper billing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend priority groups as follows:

* Pregnant women;

* Health care and emergency medical personnel;

* Those living with, or caring for, infants 6 months old or younger;

* Anyone between 6 months and 24 years old; and

* Anyone from 25 to 64 years old who have medical conditions placing them at higher risk for influeneza-related complications.

Alana Sulka, director for the district's Epidemiology and Community Health, said the vaccine is made the same way other flu vaccines have been made.

"Persons within the priority groups wanting to receive the vaccine should contact their primary health care provider to determine whether they should be vaccinated and to discuss any questions they may have," Sulka said.

On Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the health clinics will offer the vaccine to those who fall into the priority groups. The event will be held at the Gwinnett County Public Health Services in Lawrenceville and at the Rockdale County Health Department in Conyers.

The vaccination campaign is expected to last several weeks and more public events will be held as vaccine becomes available, Salgado said.

For more information, visit www.health.state.ga.us/h1n1flu or www.eastmetrohealth.com.