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State launches online H1N1-vaccine locator

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

State health officials announced, on Wednesday, the launch of Georgia's H1N1 Influenza Vaccine Provider Locator.

The online tool will make it easier for the public to locate a provider participating in the 2009 H1N1 vaccination campaign, according to Joye Burton, spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Community Health.

Burton said the H1N1 Influenza Vaccine Provider Locator is an online search tool, on the state Public Health web site, which allows users to locate providers of the vaccine for the H1N1 virus, known as the swine flu, through a four-step process.

She said users should log onto the web site - www.health.state.ga.us/h1n1flu - and click on the H1N1 Provider Locator icon. On the next screen, users can enter a five-digit zip code and search for vaccine providers within a two-mile to 50-mile radius.

The public, she said, should call providers in advance to confirm the availability of the H1N1 vaccine before traveling to a provider's office. Burton added that the list of vaccine providers will continue to grow in coming days as providers are still registering.

"I am encouraged by the questions that parents, caregivers and doctors are asking about the 2009 H1N1 flu and the 2009 H1N1 vaccine," said Rhonda Medows, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Health. "Georgia's enhanced H1N1 web page and the H1N1 Influenza Vaccine Provider Locator will make it easier for Georgians to get the answers to those questions and locate a provider that will be offering the 2009 H1N1 vaccine in their facility."

According to health officials, area residents can find the H1N1 vaccine in nasal-spray form for children and young adults, ages 2 to 24, at various health-care clinics, day cares and schools across the metro-Atlanta area.

The Henry County School System on Tuesday kicked off its part in the Flu Free School Program, in which public health officials conduct flu-vaccine clinics at various schools within the school system, said Hayla Hall, spokeswoman for District 4 Public Health Services, which serves Henry County.

The H1N1 vaccine nasal spray, Hall added, is also available for health-care providers, first responders, and parents and caregivers of infants less than 6 months old.

She said parents should know that children cannot receive both the seasonal-flu nasal-spray vaccine and the H1N1 nasal-spray vaccine at the same time.

"It is recommended that these be given a month apart," Hall said. "However, children can get one shot and one nasal spray at the same time or both shots at the same time given in different arms."

Hall said additional nasal-spray vaccine and a shipment of H1N1 injectible vaccine is expected soon but no delivery date has been given at this time.