‘Swine Flu’ Vaccine Now Available to All

By EGP News Service

The H1N1 vaccine is now available to everyone, not just those in at-risk groups, the county’s top health official said Tuesday.

“Adequate vaccine supply has arrived in Los Angeles County, allowing providers to administer H1N1 vaccine to any patient over the age of six month for whom it is not otherwise contraindicated,” said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county’s top public health official. “As more H1N1 vaccine becomes available through private doctors and local community health clinics, almost anyone who wants to receive the vaccine should be able to get it.”

Fielding said Los Angeles had received more than 2.4 million doses of the vaccine to date.

Flu cases declined nationwide during the week of Nov. 29-Dec. 5, according to the CDC. The number of states reporting widespread flu activity decreased from 25 to 14, and flu-related hospitalizations were down.

“Though it appears that the second wave of H1N1 flu has peaked, influenza remains active in L.A. County, and most people are still susceptible to becoming ill,” Fielding said. “Flu season typically lasts until May, so another wave of flu is certainly possible.”

Flu-related deaths increased during the same time period, at least in part due to a lag in reporting deaths. Three times as many children have died this year from flu than in a typical flu season, according to Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC.

The federal health agency revealed Tuesday that it has recalled 800,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine manufactured for children 6-35 months old. The CDC Web site states that the pre-filled syringes were recalled because they were not as potent as specified, not because of any safety concerns.

Though the county no longer has mass vaccination clinics, vaccinations are available through private physicians and by limited appointment at county public health centers.
For locations and operating hours of health centers, residents can visit the Los Angeles County Public Health Web site at http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov or call the information line at 2-1-1.

Some pharmacies will also receive some vaccine by the end of the month and will administer it for a small fee, Fielding said.

“It is important that residents take advantage of the protection that H1N1 vaccine offers, especially during the holiday season (when) catching the flu means missing planned celebrations or travel.”

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December 17, 2009  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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