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H1N1 vaccine clinic set

ALBANY -- The mission of public health officials to protect residents from the current swine flu pandemic is still ongoing.

The Dougherty County Health Department will offer H1N1 vaccinations on Saturday during a four-hour clinic aimed at making it more convenient for the public to take advantage of plentiful vaccine.

The clinic, which is set for 10 a.m.-2 p.m., is open to the public. There is no out-of-pocket expense for H1N1 vaccine, but insurance carriers may be billed an administration fee. Both injectable and nasal mist forms are available.

"I don't have exact numbers, but there is a great amount of (H1N1 vaccine) left," said Suzette Profit, immunization coordinator for the health department.

At the end of 2009, area health officials made attempts to gauge the interest in bringing vaccination clinics into schools, a concept that turned out not to be feasible.

"There was some interest, but not enough demand to warrant it," Profit

said.

In Georgia, 760 hospitalizations and 42 fatalities, including six pediatric deaths, from flu-like illness have occurred since the pandemic began in April 2009. Pockets of flu activity are still being reported throughout the state.

Since the peak of flu activity that officials would expect to see this time of year has yet to arrive, there is no telling how this season's unusual circumstances might impact things, experts say.

"We are concerned because the peak of flu season is at the end of January and beginning of February," Profit said.

The vaccination clinic in Dougherty County is the only such one taking place within the public health district's 14-county area Saturday. Profit said she would expect to see about 100 people seize the opportunity to get vaccinated.

So far, the number of people in the area that have taken advantage of the inoculation leaves something to be desired.

"There is still a traffic flow, but not as heavy as it should be," Profit said. "It's still not too late to get the vaccine."

More information about H1N1 is available at area county health departments or by visiting www.southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org.