H1N1 Vaccine Arrives: Now What?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jodi Hernandez

     San Francisco has received its first shipment of injectable H1N1  flu vaccine, approximately 28,000 doses, Mayor Gavin Newsom announced Monday.
     
    The Department of Public Health began giving the swine flu vaccine  today to high-risk patients who receive health care at public health clinics.  The city began administering the nasal spray form of the vaccine earlier this  month.

    The city has now begun looking for volunteers to help distribute  the vaccine for free at 10 vaccination clinics, beginning Thursday and  continuing for up to six days.

    "We're confident that we'll be able to meet the demand," Mayor  Gavin Newsom said today, though he acknowledged there will likely be "some  long lines."

    "I hope that we avoid a large rush down to the clinics," Newsom  said.

    Public Health Director Dr. Mitch Katz said that because of high  demand for the vaccine, he has extended the eligibility to include adults  with medical conditions that put them at risk for complications from  influenza, in addition to pregnant women, children, parents of infants and  health care and emergency responders.

    "We ask people who are not in those two groups to be patient,"  Katz said.

    Before going to a vaccine clinic, high-risk patients with a  primary care physician should call their doctor to determine availability of  the vaccine, Katz added.

    Katz said that residents who are Kaiser patients can procure  vaccines from Kaiser's supply.

    Katz also cautioned that H1N1 "for the vast majority of people, is  a mild illness."

    For those concerned about the safety of the vaccines, Katz said,  "I can't blame anyone who takes that stance."

    Katz said data on the possible side effects of the vaccine  probably won't be available until the spring, but he maintained that health  authorities have concluded the vaccines are safe.

    "If anyone wants to opt out, obviously that's their choice," he  said.

    Newsom said he and his wife, who are caring for their 5-week-old  baby girl, received the nasal spray vaccine late last week.

    San Francisco residents can visit  www.sfcdcp.org/FluVaccinesSites.html for more information on clinic locations  and times. They can also call 311.

    City officials will be registering clinic volunteers Tuesday from  noon to 8 p.m. at the Department of Human Resources Emergency Volunteer  Center, located at 1 S. Van Ness Ave. on the 4th floor. Volunteers must be at  least 18 years old and provide proof of U.S. citizenship.

    Priority groups for the vaccine include:

    • Pregnant women
    • Young people 6 months to 24 years old
    • Caregivers for children under 6 months of age
    • Health care workers and emergency service personnel
    • Individuals 25-64 with health conditions that put them at higher risk for flu-related complications

    Where can you go to get a H1N1 vaccination?

    What else should I know about the H1N1:

    Other helpful links:

     Bay City News contributed to this report.