March 18 • 10:08 PM

Supplies low, demand high

H1N1 immunization clinics slated for students, high risks in Capac

October 28, 2009
TRI-CITY AREA — Doses of H1N1 vaccine are going out just about as quickly as they're coming in, says Susan Amato, director of education and planning for the St. Clair County Health Department.

"The number (of doses) changes by the hour," Amato says. "We order what we feel we need each week and then the order comes and it's not as much as we ordered."

Last week, officials were busy administering the vaccination to county first responders and health-care workers during a clinic held expressly for those considered most 'in the line of fire' when it comes to H1N1, also referred to as swine flu.

So far, there have been no confirmed cases of H1N1 in St. Clair County, Amato says, but that doesn't mean it isn't expected.

"We're getting sporadic reports of children indicating that they've been diagnosed with H1N2 but that's very unreliable information," Amato says. "There is only testing ordered for people who are hospitalized or those that are severely ill. We have no reliable case count, we can only monitor what's reported here."

Regardless of official reports, Amato says they expect to have confirmed cases of H1N1 flu as it sweeps across the state. Cases have been confirmed in Genesee County, and more than 200 schools across Michigan have been closed due to reported illness.

Amato says the St. Clair County Health Department is offering on-site vaccination clinics at school districts throughout the area—which began on Monday at Algonac High School. Slated to begin at 1:30 p.m., Amato had received reports that people were lined up around the building before 10:30 a.m. She was concerned that some would have to be turned away as supplies currently dictate the focus on high risk groups.

She expects the same will hold true at an upcoming vaccination clinic at Capac Elementary School on Monday, November 16.

Students who present a signed consent form or with a parent or guardian in tow will be vaccinated from 1:30-3 p.m. From 4-8 p.m. health department officials will focus on immunizing at-risk populations including: pregnant women; children between the ages of 6 months and 24 years; health care workers/emergency first responders; caregivers of children under 6 months old; residents ages 25-64 with underlying health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or any heart/lung condition.

A vaccination clinic at Capac Middle School is slated for Tuesday, December 1, followed by a clinic at the high school on Wednesday, December 2.

Vaccinations at the Capac clinics will be available in shot or nasal spray form and will be administered free of charge.

Amato says the two-sided consent forms and vaccine information will be sent home with students prior to the clinic dates. Forms are also available at the Capac Library and all branches of the St. Clair County Library system.

In Lapeer County, vaccine supplies have been distributed to 12 area physicians as quickly as they've been received. Health Department Director Stephanie Simmons says residents without doctors should call the health department to be put on a waiting list for the vaccine.

"There were 250 people on the list when we started it last Friday afternoon (October 16) and as of Thursday (Oct. 22) there were over 1,000," she says.

Simmons says health care officials urge people in high risk categories to be immunized.

"Michigan has been upgraded to 'widespread' (H1N1 cases)—it's sticking out like a sore thumb, no pun intended," Simmons says. "It's taking a little longer to get to this area but it's definitely finding its way across the state. It's a reality that it's here and people need the vaccine."

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