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County hosts H1N1 mass vaccination on Saturday

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

The Clayton County Board of Health (BOH) will give hundreds of county residents a chance to receive the swine flu (H1N1) vaccine during a "Mass Vaccination Clinic" event on Saturday.

The BOH will offer the vaccinations for free, in an attempt to protect the county's most vulnerable residents from the virus. The special clinic will take place from 9 a.m., to 4 p.m., at the Clayton County Board of Health, located at 1117 Battle Creek Road in Jonesboro.

The H1N1 flu shot will be offered to priority groups, including: Pregnant women; people who live with or care for infants younger than six months; health care and emergency medical services personnel; children from six-months old to 18 years of age; young adults, ages 19 to 24; and persons between the ages of 25 and 64 with underlying medical conditions that put them at greater risk for flu-related complications, such diabetes, asthma, and other respiratory conditions.

BOH Public Information Officer Veronda Griffin said the board hosted a similar Mass Vaccination Clinic on Nov. 7, during which the vaccine was administered to approximately 300 people. She said the board will seek to reach more people during this weekend's mass vaccination.

"We wanted to give people a chance to come on Saturday because a lot of people won't be able to come during the week because of work or school," Griffin said. "The priority groups have already been identified, so we are trying to stick to those groups. [At] the last clinic we had, we saw a lot of pregnant women coming and a lot of children coming in to get the vaccine. We have the supply, we just need the people to come."

Freda Sheppard, immunization coordinator for the agency, said demand for the H1N1 vaccine has been steady. Since October, the board has vaccinated about 3,400 people -- 2,200 with the intranasal vaccine. She said the board currently has about 3,800 flu shots in stock.

Sheppard said that people caring for infants under the age of six months should be especially diligent in getting the vaccine, as children under that age are unable to be administered the vaccine. "Those infants can't get the vaccine, so they have to be protected by the people around them," Sheppard said. "I think we had about 300 or 400 people [during the last mass vaccination]. That's not very many when you consider the [population] density of this county.

"We've extended the hours, somewhat, that we are going to hold this clinic," she said. "We are hoping that more people will get the word."

For more information, call (678) 610-7471, (678) 610-7247, or (678) 610-7468.