County prepares for big turnout at H1N1 clinics
Washington County health officials have 4,000 doses of H1N1 influenza vaccine for a weekend clinic for children and say they are prepared for a big turnout.
The Public Health Department will offer free H1N1 flu vaccinations for children ages 4 to 9. Any child in that age group who attends school in Washington County is eligible.
The clinics will be from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the following sites:
-- Washington County Government Center, 14949 62nd St. N., Stillwater
-- Cottage Grove Service Center, 13000 Ravine Parkway S., Cottage Grove
-- Headwaters Forest Lake Service Center, 19955 Forest Road N., Forest Lake
Public Health Director Lowell Johnson said the Cottage Grove and Stillwater sites each will receive 1,500 doses; Forest Lake will have 1,000 doses. The supply was divided based on the population of those areas.
In order to monitor supply on Saturday, clinic organizers will distribute tickets to those waiting in line at the three locations.
Health officials estimate there are 18,000 children ages 4 to 9 living in Washington County, but do not know how many already have received the vaccination.
"We do know that there are many more kids in that age group than what we have a vaccine available for," Johnson said. "We know that we could have high demand for this clinic."
Johnson said the county is prepared for a big turnout. Public health nurses will administer the vaccine. Trained volunteers with the Washington County Medical Reserve Corps will assist at the clinics. Most of those volunteers are registered nurses.
Most children will receive the vaccine in nasal mist form, but there will be shots available for kids with asthma or other underlying health conditions that restrict them from receiving the nasal mist.
The nasal mist is just as effective as the injection, said Fred Anderson, county epidemiologist.
"It's painless. It's quick. It's easily administered and it's very effective," Johnson added.
Children will need two doses of the H1N1 vaccine, the second coming at least four weeks after the initial dose. The county plans a second free clinic in December. However, that could be delayed until the county receives an adequate number of doses to warrant a clinic, Johnson said.
Children could receive H1N1 vaccinations from a private health-care provider.
Since spring, an estimated 35 Washington County residents have been hospitalized with confirmed H1N1 cases, but many more residents likely have come down with the flu strain, Anderson said.
For more information about the clinics, call (651) 430-6820 or go to www.co.washington.mn.us/flu
Check back for updates.