Community Health to offer free H1N1 clinic
St. Joseph's Area Health Services Community Health will vaccinate everyone age 4 and over who wants to be vaccinated against the H1N1 flu virus during a free clinic Tuesday, Dec. 29.
The Minnesota Department of Health gave the go ahead to open H1N1 vaccinations to the general public given ample availability of the vaccine.
The free vaccinations will be administered from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in Park Rapids.
Second doses will also be available for children ages 9 and under. It is recommended that this age group receive two doses of the H1N1, but it should also be noted that there should be a minimum four-week waiting period between doses. As a result, a date of the first vaccination will be required before a second dose can be given.
Children 18 years and younger must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian in order for them to receive the vaccine.
Patients and children under age 4 can also get their H1N1 vaccination by calling Innovis Health for an appointment after the first of the year. (Dosages for the very young are different, and many of them have already been targeted during previous clinics, which is why they are not included in this particular mass distribution of the H1N1 vaccine.)
Why get vaccinated?
There appears to be little to no activity of the H1N1 virus or influenza-like outbreaks in Hubbard County, and the "second wave" of H1N1 has diminished significantly according to reports from St. Joseph's and area clinics. However, it is still important that everyone get the vaccine.
"The emphasis is to try to get everyone vaccinated to help disrupt the flow of the virus to the public," says Dr. Larry Leadbetter, St. Joseph's/Innovis Health Internal Medicine, Infection Prevention Medical Advisor.
A third round of H1N1 wave could hit, and the medical community is additionally watching a sub-strain or mutation of the H1N1 virus, which presents itself in a slightly mutated form. This strain may be more difficult to diagnose and possibly to treat since it may be more resistant.
St. Joseph's Community Health continues to manage the local flu hotline at 237-5611. It is an ideal source for more information on area vaccination clinic times and dates.