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:
- Get the Facts - Video
- The 411 on Swine Flu Vaccine - Question and Answer Article
- Swine Flu Vaccine - Video of General Guidelines
Other helpful links:
Bay City News contributed to this report.