H1N1 shots available by appointment

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Inoculation against H1N1 influenza starts Wednesday for anyone requesting a shot at the clinic in Lewisburg, the county's health director said Friday.

"We've lifted all restrictions, so it's available to anyone who wants to come in and roll up their sleeve," said Jason Lewis, director of public health for Marshall, Giles and Bedford counties.

However, the shots are to be administered on an appointment basis only, Lewis said. There will be no open clinic at the Health Department offices on Legion Avenue.

"The sheer demand is what's driving that," he said, encouraging residents to call the department at 359-1551 to make an appointment for the shot.

That way, the staff at the clinic will be able to continue to provide services for others who come to the Health Department for help with pregnancy, child care and such public health services.

Appointments for shots at the clinic is one way to schedule the department's limited staff for the greatest number of people in a timely fashion, he said.

"We were doing it on an on-demand basis for the target populations and that was working," Lewis said of shots administered to at-risk groups such as children and seniors with a chronic health condition.

Meanwhile, early Friday afternoon, Lewis was at Marshall County Schools' Central Office asking about use of a school building that could be used for an open clinic on a Saturday.

When a site is selected, Lewis plans to conduct an on-demand H1N1 flu shot clinic "to serve the people who keep a work schedule that's the same as our appointments," he said, explaining that he wants to "remove all possible barriers" for people who want an H1N1 flu shot.

The clinic in Lewisburg has "hundreds of doses" of the H1N1 vaccine "with more en route," Lewis said.

Until then, he said, the appointment method is to be used.

"If we put one time in the paper (for shots) we'd be swamped ... and wouldn't be able to provide the other services," he said.

Lewis anticipates making an announcement soon about an open clinic on a Saturday in Marshall County.