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Posted: October 9, 2009 12:30 a.m.

What you need to know about the H1N1 vaccine

What you need to know about the H1N1 vaccine

H1N1 nasal spray vaccine will be available for free at the Newton County Health Center, at 8203 Hazelbrand Road, on Friday.

The East Metro Health District, which consists of Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale counties, has received 6,500 doses of nasal spray vaccine and will be distributing it to the counties’ health centers based on population and demand, said Suleima Salgado,

EMHD public information officer.

Salgado said the EMHD’s primary focus for this initial supply is to vaccinate healthy children between the ages of two to four, but any healthy person between the ages of two to 49, excluding pregnant women, can receive the nasal form of the vaccine.

People seeking vaccines from the county health department should bring their insurance cards and information with them.

"We understand that this process may be frustrating, but we are asking the public to be patient with us." Salgado said by e-mail. "We have been told that by the end of October or beginning of November, there will be ample supplies of H1N1 vaccine to ensure that everyone who wants a vaccination will be able to receive one."

The public will also be able to get vaccines from private physicians and healthcare groups and from chain stores and pharmacies, like Kroger, Walgreens, CVS and Wal-Mart, but these providers will charge administration fees, Salgado said.

People can get more information about nasal spray availability by calling the local health department at (770) 786-9086, calling the EMHD office at (770) 339-4260 and then pressing "1" or by visiting emhd.com.

Salgado said she didn’t know how much vaccine Newton County would be receiving, nor did she know when the EMHD would be getting in more shipments.

She said that in the future the EMHD may host a few Saturday clinics to provide the vaccine if there is a large demand.

Originally, the plan had been to have local governments, churches and other non-profits receive and distribute the vaccine to their employees and members, but no exemption was given. However, Salgado said private businesses, faith based organizations, and community groups can partner with commercial vaccinators like Maxim, Mollen, and Flu Busters to provide the H1N1 vaccine to their constituents. The City of Covington has discussed this possibility.

According to the Georgia Dept. of Community Health, people cannot get the flu by taking the vaccine, but it does produce mild side effects, including runny nose, wheezing, nasal congestion and fever.

The nasal spray vaccine should not be given to the following:

• Children who are receiving treatments containing aspirin

• Children with a sensitivity to eggs, egg proteins, gentamicin, gelatin, or arginine or have had life-threatening reactions to previous influenza vaccinations

• Children that are younger than 2 years old

• Children with asthma or children less than 4 years old with recurrent wheezing

• Children with health problems that predispose them to complications from flu

• Children that have a muscle, nerve, or seizure disorder that could lead to breathing or swallowing problems

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