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Homeless get H1N1 swine flu vaccine

Post by Mike Archbold on Oct. 14, 2009 at 3:07 pm with 1 Comment »
October 14, 2009 3:12 pm

Homeless people are among the first in Pierce County to get the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine that was dispensed today during the Project Homeless Connect health fair held in the Tacoma Dome.

The Tacoma Pierce County Health Department, the community coordinator for the 2009 H1N1 vaccine, allocated about 200 units of the vaccine for the fair, according to Kathy Harsch who supervises the flu vaccine outreach for the Health Department.

It was the first public dispensing in the county of the still hard-to-get vaccine.

The vaccine was only in a nasal form and was targeted at healthy people ages two through 49.

“We are quite excited about it,” Harsch said. “We just started getting it.”

The department is now processing the vaccine and distributing it to pharmacies and physicians, she said.

Two public clinics to dispense the H1N1 are planned next month, she said. No dates have been set. Six school-based clinics are scheduled.

Harsh said they were also dispensing seasonal flu vaccine shots as well as a pneumonia vaccine.

The line for flu shots was long this morning as homeless and low income people from throughout the area showed up for the third annual free health care project. Flu shots were at the first health care station inside on the floor of the Tacoma Dome.

“It’s important,” said Dan, 58, who stood in line for a seasonal flu shot and didn’t want to give his last name. He said he got a flu shot at last’s year’s health fair, too, and stayed healthy.

“I wanted it and it’s free,” he said.

Pacific Lutheran University senior nursing students were administering the flu shots and nasal spray under the watchful eyes of a regular nurse. They were among the 600 to 700 volunteers who are staffing the day-long community-sponsored event.

Ellie Ottey who is coordinating the health care day and is a member of the Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness, said they expected to attract some 1,500 people. Last year more than 900 low income men, women and children attended, most of whom were homeless.

Services included regular medical care, vision and dental work. Volunteers from a variety of agencies including Social Security Administration, the state Department of Social and Health Services, Department of Licensing and the Veterans Administration manned tables.

Substance abuse and mental health counselors were present. Free haircuts and a clothing bank also were available.

The event ends at 5 p.m.

Leave a comment Comments → 1
  1. ldozy1234 says:

    While I think providing the flu shots are excellent for this population, I hope the TNT will report on if current CDC recommendations were followed. As of last posting, these are the only folks who should have received the vaccine at this time- especially since supplies are short still.

    CDC Advisors Make Recommendations for Use of Vaccine Against Novel H1N1

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met today to make recommendations for use of vaccine against novel influenza A (H1N1).

    The committee met to develop recommendations on who should receive vaccine against novel influenza A (H1N1) when it becomes available, and to determine which groups of the population should be prioritized if the vaccine is initially available in extremely limited quantities.

    The committee recommended the vaccination efforts focus on five key populations. Vaccination efforts are designed to help reduce the impact and spread of novel H1N1. The key populations include those who are at higher risk of disease or complications, those who are likely to come in contact with novel H1N1, and those who could infect young infants. When vaccine is first available, the committee recommended that programs and providers try to vaccinate:

    * pregnant women,
    * people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age,
    * health care and emergency medical services personnel,
    * persons between the ages of 6 months through 24 years of age, and
    * people from ages 25 through 64 years who are at higher risk for novel H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.

    The groups listed above total approximately 159 million people in the United States.

    The committee does not expect that there will be a shortage of novel H1N1 vaccine, but availability and demand can be unpredictable. There is some possibility that initially the vaccine will be available in limited quantities. In this setting, the committee recommended that the following groups receive the vaccine before others:

    * pregnant women,
    * people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age,
    * health care and emergency medical services personnel with direct patient contact,
    * children 6 months through 4 years of age, and
    * children 5 through 18 years of age who have chronic medical conditions.

    The committee recognized the need to assess supply and demand issues at the local level. The committee further recommended that once the demand for vaccine for these prioritized groups has been met at the local level, programs and providers should begin vaccinating everyone from ages 25 through 64 years. Current studies indicate the risk for infection among persons age 65 or older is less than the risk for younger age groups. Therefore, as vaccine supply and demand for vaccine among younger age groups is being met, programs and providers should offer vaccination to people over the age of 65.

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