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County health department will offer free H1N1 flu clinics twice this week
SAINT ROBERT/CROCKER, Mo. (Nov. 30, 2009) — While many local schools have been administering special clinics to administer the H1N1 flu vaccine to local children, two public clinics will be held this week in Saint Robert and Crocker for essentially the entire local population over the age of 6 months. Both clinics provide free H1N1 shots regardless of income due to special public health provisions triggered by the pandemic nature of the current H1N1 influenza.

• The first clinic on Wednesday, Dec. 2, is at the St. Robert Community Center on Old Route 66 and runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The location is not at the St. Robert Municipal Center at 194 Eastlawn Avenue, which was incorrectly posted on some versions of the clinic announcement.

• The second clinic on Saturday, Dec. 5, is at the Pulaski County Health Department at 101 12th Street in Crocker from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The two clinics this week are open to elderly people over age 64 as well as people from age 25 to 64 who are healthy. That’s different from earlier clinics which were designated only for health care providers, emergency personnel, and high-risk groups such as children and young adults from six months to 24 years old, people who live with or care for infants less than six months old, and people from age 25 to 64 who have a chronic health condition,.

People in those high-risk groups are still welcome to attend the clinic and are urged to do so, according to Patty McClendon, the public health nursing supervisor for the Pulaski County Health Department.

“It is important to protect everyone from getting the H1N1 flu, especially those in the high risk categories since it seems they are the ones who are getting sicker if they get it,” McClendon said.

While an earlier clinic targeted only for high-risk patients had to be cancelled because of a lack of H1N1 vaccine, McClendon said that shouldn’t be a problem this week.

“I know we received 1,800 this morning and will have about 1,100 more this week,” McClendon said. “We are receiving about two deliveries a week now.”

McClendon said that while she anticipates a high turnout for the clinic, coming early won’t help.

“We’re not going to be giving any vaccinations until 10 a.m.,” McClendon said. “In the past when we’ve had these it has moved really smoothly; the girls giving the vaccine have done it long enough that they know how to do it, and they move people through well.”

The H1N1 flu, unlike most forms of the flu which are more serious for elderly people and can result in fatalities due to pneumonia or other complications, tends to target younger people and most fatalities are of children or teenagers. In prior years when the flu clinics were targeting elderly patients who were more likely to suffer serious complications, the Pulaski County Health Department had a drive-through flu shot station in which older people could get a flu shot without needing to get out of their cars. That won’t be done formally with a tent this year, but McClendon urged people who can’t get out of their cars to still come to the flu clinic.

“We are not going to do the drive-through this year, but if someone is unable to come into the clinic, we will have someone come out and get the paperwork filled out and administer the vaccine,” McClendon said.

McClendon said she knows many people worry about the live vaccine being administered, but said those worries are groundless.

“There’s been big concerns about the H1N1 live vaccine, but it has been made the same way the seasonal vaccine has been made. We’ve given out over 1,000 (doses) and we have not had any problems giving it,” McClendon said. “This is a diluted dose; it’s not like we are giving them the flu. They have probably been coming into more contact with sick people in the store who are coughing or who have a sore throat and all the symptoms of influenza.”

McClendon cautioned that just because someone appears sick, it doesn’t mean that they have either H1N1 influenza or the seasonal flu.

“I was sick myself, and I got tested, and I did not have it. There is another virus going around now called Rhinoinfluenza that has all the symptoms of H1N1 or the seasonal flu,” McClendon said. “People need to wash their hands, use hand sanitizers, and use the wipes in the store on their carts in case someone with a sick kid has had the cart before them … we need to protect ourselves as much as possible.”

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