The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency has decided that its limited supply of H1N1 vaccine will be given to pregnant women.
The county agency said Wednesday that it received 600 doses of the injectable vaccine, which has been coveted since swine flu outbreaks began here during the summer. Health care providers in the county started receiving small amounts of the injectable vaccine last week.
Expectant mothers are given a high priority for the vaccine because of their susceptibility to influenza.
"Public health is working to ensure that those most vulnerable to severe complications from H1N1 receive the needed vaccinations," said Cleopathia Moore-Bell, associate director of the Health Services Agency. "To ensure this, we will be working with health care providers to make sure that pregnant women closest to delivery receive vaccine."County officials said the vaccine has a preservative containing mercury, which is not ideal for pregnant women. But the state Department of Public Health approved a waiver for pregnant women to get the shots because of a national shortage of vaccine without the preservative.
County officials are asking that women first check to see if they can get an H1N1 flu shot from their obstetrician. Expectant mothers will need a referral from their doctor to get the flu shot from the Health Services Agency, which serves the county's low- income population.
The vaccinations will be given at the county immunization clinic at 820 Scenic Drive in Modesto. On Wednesday, the clinic started vaccinating pregnant women in their third trimester and will continue to vaccinate that group through Friday from 12:30 to 6 p.m.
The clinic will be open to women in their second or third trimesters Monday through Nov. 13 at the same times. Children are not allowed inside the clinic, officials said.
A shortage of seasonal flu vaccine prompted the county to stop administering regular flu shots at the clinic last week. The walk-in clinic will reopen to the public once an ample supply of H1N1 vaccine is available.
Anita Hernandez, a Riverbank resident who wants the vaccine, said she agreed with giving the limited supply to pregnant women or other high-risk groups, but she felt that others have been waiting too long. She is on disability because of health issues.
"I was thinking about getting the shot but it seems like there is no place where it is available," she said. "My immune system might not be so strong."
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2321.