Merced County will begin offering H1N1 swine flu vaccines Tuesday, public health officials said Thursday.
So far only certain groups of people will be eligible for the vaccine, including pregnant women, healthcare workers, young children and those with pre-existing health problems, officials said.
At least for now, all others will be turned away, county spokeswoman Katie Albertson said. “There are certain people who need to be first in line because they’re at higher risk for complications,” Albertson said. “We’re following (Center for Disease Control) guidelines.”
Albertson said the county's public health department got its first shipment of the vaccine — both in the nasal spray and injectable form — late Wednesday. The county anticipates more and expects to have enough by December to offer the vaccine to anyone who wants it.
"As more vaccine becomes available in coming weeks, the health department will continue to notify the public of the availability and distribution of the H1N1 flu vaccine," the county’s public health officer, Tim Livermore, said in a press release.
The vaccine will be administered for as long as quantities last at public clinics. They'll be offered in Merced on Tuesday and Fridays and in Los Banos on Wednesdays.
For now, only the following groups of people will be given doses:
• pregnant women
• people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months
• healthcare workers who have face-to-face contact with patients
• healthy children between 6 months and 4 years of age
• children 3 to 18 who have chronic medical conditions
People with fevers and those who’ve received other live vaccines in recent weeks may not be eligible for a flu vaccine, public health officials said.
Based on state guidelines, the H1N1 vaccine will be given for free, but those with medical insurance should bring their insurance identification cards.
The Merced flu clinics will be held Tuesdays from 1 to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the health department, 260 E. 15th Street. The Los Banos clinics will be held Wednesdays from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Los Banos Fairgrounds Geronimo Building.
For more information on the H1N1 flu shots and special pandemic flu clinics, call the health department at (209) 381-1180. Spanish speakers should dial (209) 381-1181.
More information on seasonal and pandemic H1N1 flu is also available on the county’s flu Web site at www.co.merced.ca.us/flu.
Reporter Corinne Reilly can be reached at (209)385-2477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.