Local News

Wake could soon open H1N1 clinics to all

Posted December 3, 2009 4:30 p.m. EST
Updated December 3, 2009 6:39 p.m. EST

— Wake County could open its H1N1 immunization clinics to the general public as soon as next week, Community Health Director Sue Lynn Ledford said Thursday.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Megan Davies said no statewide policy has been set for making the vaccine for the H1N1 flu virus more widely available, but some counties have said their supplies are sufficient to move beyond the high-risk groups that have been receiving vaccinations in recent weeks.

"Some of them are holding their vaccine clinics for our target groups and not that many people are showing up, and they still have a good amount of vaccine left at the end of the clinic," Davies said. "We obviously don't want vaccine sitting around. We want vaccine in people."

Officials have been restricting vaccinations to pregnant women, children between the ages of 6 months and 24 years, anyone caring for an infant younger than 6 months old and emergency and health care workers.

Ledford said Wake County public health workers are contacting local pediatricians and ob-gyns to see if they've been able to vaccinate target populations, and they're also analyzing priority groups. Once they get those numbers, Ledford said, she can make a decision about opening vaccines to the public.

Orange County health officials said they haven't decided whether to open immunization clinics to the general public. Durham County health officials couldn't be reached Thursday for comment.

"It does look like we are getting very close now in North Carolina to being able to generally open this up to the public," Davies said.

She said she doesn't think everyone in high-risk groups has been immunized against H1N1. Some have chosen not to be vaccinated, she said, while others might have been scared off by long lines.

"Other people might have been discouraged by the early lines and the perception (that) they could wait in line and not get a vaccine at the end of the day," she said. "I think hearing that it's more generally available will signal to them also that they can get that vaccine, and they might want to come in and get that."

Raleigh resident Blue Greenberg said she's been frustrated that she hasn't been able to get vaccinated.

"I believe it's a really bad strain of flu, and I don't need to get sick," Greenberg said.

Resident Anthony Scott said he plans to be among the first in line for the vaccine once Wake County opens its immunization clinics to everyone.

"With the symptoms going around, I would love to try and get it for myself," Scott said.

State officials could shift vaccine stocks between counties as needed if some continue to have trouble meeting demand, especially among high-risk groups, Davies said.

The virus has been spreading in waves, and Davies said waves of H1N1 will likely continue through the normal flu season into next spring.