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Friday, October 2, 2009 - 7:23am

Children Receive First Doses of H1N1 Vaccine

Only children ages two to four years old are being given the first doses of H1N1, or swine flu, vaccine to arrive in Georgia. Anyone older was being turned away Tuesday.

Some Georgia counties received the first batches of vaccine Monday, a day earlier than planned.

Public health departments in Carroll, Coweta and Fayette counties have received the vaccine in nasal spray form and have been advised they can start administering it to anyone who requests it for the target group, says Hayla Hall, spokesperson for spokeswoman for District 4 Public Health. She says that people in that age group cannot have asthma, long-term health conditions or an egg allergy.

Four-year-old Eva Sivetsen was the 25th kid to get vaccinated today at the Fayette County Health Department in metro Atlanta.

Nurse: “Here we go ready one two... squirt and the other side... squirt... was it that bad... no, pretty easy huh?

Eva Sivetsen: “It feels like water up my nose.”

Georgia got just 54,000 doses in this first batch of vaccines, so health officials say only kids ages two to four can get it now because they're at a higher risk for hospitalization, and are more susceptible because their personal hygiene is difficult to control.

This clinic has just 400 doses, but people weren't lining up to get their toddlers inoculated. However, plenty of people were calling wondering when it would be their turn.

“People calling about it most of them got older children wanting it,” says Janet Hall who has been answering the phones at the health department all day. “We're telling them to keep calling back every day or so to see if we get any shipments in. We're not sure when.”

State health officials say the vaccine will be available to more people in the next several weeks.

Across the country, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there will be an estimated six to seven million initial doses of H1N1 vaccine available.

Dr. Rhonda Meadows, commissioner of the state's Department of Community Health, told GPB later this month, the injection doses arrive. Meadows says all together, the state will have two-million combined doses in circulation by the end of the month.

Meadows says it's important to note the nasal spray vaccine is not for everyone. It's only recommended for healthy people ages 2 to 49. It cannot be given be to pregnant women, and not recommended for those with chronic conditions. Meadows says because this initial shipment is a bit less than state health officials expected, the target group is children.

The vaccine will be free of charge if received at county health clinics or public health district offices. Private providers may charge administration fees. However, Meadows says many of those providers intend to work with people on a sliding-scale for their fees.

Concerning swine flu across the state, Meadows says there are no particular hot-spots to report right now, but the virus is still considered widespread.

Last week there was another death attributed to swine flu. A seven-year-old girl died last Wednesday morning after being hospitalized last week. At least 14 Georgians have died from the swine flu virus since April.


Rickey Bevington

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