Stimulus funds OK'd for H1N1

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Marshall County's Public Health Department is now providing H1N1 shots to youngsters and others who are most likely to contract and spread that strain of flu.

Meanwhile, county commissioners last week authorized a change in their contract with the state to receive federal stimulus money to expand protection of public health here.

Annual operations of the public health clinic cost about $800,000 here, according to Jason Lewis, public health director for Marshall, Giles and Bedford counties. Marshall's commissioners amended their contract with the department to receive $88,400 for vaccine and related costs to inoculate residents.

In broad terms, the vaccine available here is just for babies now, and more shipments are expected.

More specifically, the clinic here has received limited supplies of H1N1 vaccine, Lewis said.

"It's being made available to a targeted population," he explained. "You can contact the health department" for more information about when it's more available.

The phone number is 359-1551.

"Once supplies are sufficient, we intend to make it available to all," Lewis said.

The medicine is being administered to people "where the virus is transmitting readily," he said. "It's a communicable disease and that's among the younger population.

"We're trying to slow the transmission from one to the other," Lewis said.

Still, even the director of this three-county area is unsure when he will have more medicine to prevent the flu.

"It could be five to 60 days" before more vaccine is received for Marshall County, he said.

Some of the vaccine at the clinic now is only for youngsters at age three or younger, he said.

In the rest of the county's population, the vaccine may be administered to people up to age 25 who are pregnant or who are the parents and siblings of children who are six months of age or younger because they're with the youngsters who are most likely to contract and spread the flu.

Thereafter, the shots would be available to anybody with a chronic health condition, Lewis said.

"This is status quo throughout the south central region," Lewis said.