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Pulaski Health Department H1N1 flu clinic in St. Robert ends at 7 p.m.
Pulaski Health Department H1N1 flu clinic in St. Robert ends at 7 p.m.

Art Anderson gets his H1N1 flu shot from Donna Brashear, director of the Pulaski County Health Department.
SAINT ROBERT, Mo. (Dec. 2, 2009) — Those who haven’t gotten their H1N1 flu shot yet have about two hours left before today’s health department clinic at the St. Robert Community Center shuts down at 7 p.m.

However, Donna Brashear, director of the Pulaski County Health Department, noted that her staff will hold a second clinic on Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Pulaski County Health Department’s main offices at 101 12th Street in Crocker from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

While many local schools have been administering special clinics to administer the H1N1 flu vaccine to local children, the public clinics this week in Saint Robert and Crocker offer the vaccine 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 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.

Porntippa Owens, a Waynesville R-VI School District food service employee, came with a group of other food service employees to get her H1N1 shot.

Why’d she come?

“Just to be safe, and with my kids and family I didn’t want to be a risk for them,” Owens said.

Unlike typical flu viruses that mostly harm older people, the H1N1 virus has mostly attacked younger people and children. However, Art Anderson of Waynesville, 86, said he came on medical advice.

“I came because my doctor said do,” Anderson said. “I do whatever he says to do, and I’m doing it.”

Brashear said her staff members have been running patients through very quickly — almost 200 in the first hour of today’s clinic — and there have not been backups or long lines for most of the day.

“We talked to several of the people who came through and they said they did not have to wait very long at all, and that was our goal to get 200 through in an hour,” Brashear said. “When we first opened we had all of these chairs here to the side completely full, all the tables were completely full and we had a line from here to the end of the chairs out to the back door, but we got them through really quick.”

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 health department staff members urge people who can’t get out of their cars to still come to the flu clinic. If a person is unable to enter the building, health department personnel will come outside to get the paperwork filled out and administer the vaccine.

Numerous Waynesville firefighters were also present as part of a training exercise on how they would set up a command post in the event of a major communicable disease outbreak. While the H1N1 flu does meet medical definitions of a pandemic flu, its symptoms aren’t much more serious than the regular flu. However, according to Waynesville Fire Department Crew Chief Tracy Henry, the firefighters trained on procedures that would be used in much more serious incidents.

“Basically what we are doing is running a command post out front and doing support for the health department,” Henry said. “We are setting up the chain of command, as it were, for the commander and the liaisons or go-betweens.”

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