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.