Wednesday, December 9, 2009

H1N1 vaccine restrictions lifted in Southwest Washington - Vaccine now available for everyone

Region IV Public Health released the following news release this afternoon:

Washington State public health agency administrators and health officers decided yesterday to lift priority group restrictions and make H1N1 vaccine available to anyone who wants it. Although some Washington counties may still decide to offer vaccine to priority groups only, restrictions have been lifted in Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties.

“As more vaccine has arrived in the region, we are meeting vaccine demand among the priority groups to the extent that we can now make the vaccine available to everyone,” said Marni Storey, Region IV Incident Commander. “Even so, we are focusing our outreach efforts on people in priority groups and encouraging those at greatest risk to get vaccinated as soon as they can.”

Priority groups include:

  • Pregnant women because they are at much higher risk of complications from H1N1.
  • Healthcare workers because they can potentially infect vulnerable patients and also because increased absenteeism could reduce healthcare system capacity.
  • Children ages 6 months through age 24
  • Parents and caregivers of children younger than 6 months, so they don’t pass the virus to their infants.
  • Persons ages 6 months to 64 years with chronic medical conditions that could worsen with influenza, such as asthma, hypertension, diabetes, immunosuppression and others.

For information about where to get vaccinated, call your healthcare provider or pharmacy or visit People without health insurance can receive free H1N1 vaccine at the following locations. Please call first.

Clark County

  • Free Clinic of SW Washington, (360) 313-1390
  • New Heights Clinic, (360) 694-0355

Cowlitz County

  • Cowlitz Free Medical Clinic, (360) 414-2852
  • Cowlitz Family Health Center, (360) 636-3892.

Although the number of H1N1 influenza cases is declining nationally, health officials are urging everyone to get vaccinated for several reasons:

  • H1N1 influenza is a very contagious and potentially serious disease. The best way to prevent catching or spreading H1N1 influenza is to get vaccinated.
  • Because H1N1 is a new virus, we can’t predict the course of the outbreak. Although the number of cases is dropping, we could still experience additional outbreaks of H1N1 influenza later this season.
  • The more people who get vaccinated, the more protection we have in the community. Even if you get a mild case of influenza, someone you infect may develop a much more severe illness with complications.

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