Local News

Wake County holds flu vaccine clinics for children

Posted November 21, 2009 11:03 a.m. EST
Updated November 22, 2009 3:48 p.m. EST

— Lines were short and supply plentiful at three Wake County H1N1 vaccination clinics Saturday.

County officials estimate 320,000 people qualify as "high-priority" to get the H1N1 vaccine. However, so far, only about 120,000 of these people are vaccinated against the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control has identified the following as groups recommended to receive the H1N1 vaccine:

  • pregnant women
  • those who live with or care for children younger than 6 months
  • health care and emergency medical services personnel
  • children ages 6 months to 24 years
  • persons ages 25 to 64 with underlying health issues

With children on the “high-priority” list, the county offered the nasal vaccine Saturday to healthy kids ages 2 to 18 at three locations.

“When we looked at our epidemiology trends, the children, clearly are the ones having the biggest issues,” Wake County Community Health Director Sue Lynn Ledford said Saturday.

Children are considered high risk because their immune systems aren't fully developed. They are also very active and can easily spread germs.

"I'm really concerned about them (children),” Cindy Thomason said.

Thomason took her 4-year-old granddaughter, Mikaela, to get vaccinated Saturday.

“She's in preschool and they have already had a couple of cases (of flu) in her preschool,” she said.

Concern over the virus is rising after public health officials announced Friday that three of four patients at Duke University Hospital, with a drug-resistant form of the H1N1 flu virus, had died.

The adult patients, treated in an isolated unit of the hospital over the last six weeks, tested positive for a mutation of the virus that was resistant to the drug Tamiflu, one of two medicines that help against H1N1.

“That really scared me because Tamiflu did not help the people. So I'm really scared,” Thomason said.

Health officials said the cases were rare and the patients were very ill with underlying compromised immune systems and multiple other complex medical conditions. It is not clear whether their deaths were related to the flu infections.

“Having talked with some of our state leadership, I feel very confident that they have done what they need to, to isolate and to minimize that spread,” Ledford said.

About 52 flu resistant cases have been reported in the world since April, including 15 in the U.S. Last summer, health officials said two people in western North Carolina also had a drug-resistant form of the virus.

CDC officials have said that almost all the U.S. cases have been isolated.

Since the H1N1 pandemic began, 58 people in North Carolina have died as a result of the virus, health officials said. That number is based on reports from local health departments to the state as of last Monday. 

Ledford said to help prevent the virus from spreading, people should get vaccinated.

Wake County anticipates that there will be sufficient supply of H1N1 vaccine for everyone who wants it over the next few months, Ledford said.

People living in Wake County can get more information about H1N1 flu and seasonal flu by visiting www.wakegov.com/flu or by calling 919-212-7000.