HealthCheck

Houstonians line up for H1N1 vaccine

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Clinics opened up this morning all across the city, allowing hundreds to get vaccinated against the H1N1 virus. And there was no shortage of people ready for it.

[SWINE FLU: Symptoms, questions and answers and more]
[VACCINATIONS: Houston clinics | Galveston Co. location | Your report]

The big question is about who's eligible for the shots at the clinics. The Houston Health Department says no one will be turned away who waits for the vaccine, but they'd like to prioritize the shots and vaccines for those who are high risk, including pregnant women, children and people with chronic health problems.

The lines stretched along the parking lot Wednesday at the Alief WIC Center. People were in remarkably good spirits, considering some had gotten there as early as 7:30am.

When people arrived, each person checked in and received a number.

"When I got up to the door here, she tells me it's one o'clock and they're going to lunch," said Jerry Johnson, who got in line early Wednesday. "I said, 'Can't you take a few more?' and she said 'No, they have to go to lunch' she they closed the door."

"If there was some way we could fill out the paperwork before we actually get inside, it might expedite it a little better," added Michelle Mwamba Dooms, who also got in line early.

Across town at the Northside Health Clinic, there were no long lines outside, but inside it was busy and people were given times to come back for their vaccines.

Children with diabetes and other health problems received a shot. Others with fewer risks were getting the nasal vaccine, and often families came together.

"We're shooting for 250 per day per site," said Kathy Barton with the Houston Health Department. "And we'll know pretty quick later in the day whether or not you'll be able to get your shot that day. And if you don't get your shot today, then you can come back tomorrow or Friday or the next week."

The Houston health Department had some 24,00 doses of nasal spray and vaccine, which they believe will last until next week. The county health department is beginning to get their vaccines soon too.

You can find a complete list of locations where you can get the swine flu vaccine in Harris County here.

The Galveston County Health District says it has over 5,000 doses of swine flu vaccine for those at high risk. They will be given while supplies last on Friday, October 30, and Saturday, October 31, at the Mall of the Mainland in Texas City from 10am to 5pm. Only the injectable vaccine shot will be available on these days.

Thousands of H1N1 shots hit Houston

The city of Houston has received its biggest shipment of H1N1 vaccines and will hold 10 clinics to distribute them. This has many residents -- including parents and pregnant women -- extremely excited.

Like any good mother, Ebony Hammond does everything she can to protect her children.

"I'm a germ freak," she said. "I go around with Lysol. I wipe everything."

Now she can do more. Her Southwest Side WIC Clinic will offer the H1N1 vaccine. Though she already got it, having been recently pregnant with a now 7-day-old Sinai, she plans to come back with her son and 4-year-old, Kelsey.

"I want them to get the shot," she said. "So I really don't have to worry."

The city's Health and Human Services Department just got its first large shipment of the vaccine -- 17,000 doses. They will be distributed among 10 clinics and aimed at current high-risk patients.

"These are for our pregnant moms and children," said Porfino Villarreal with the City of Houston. "These are for the people we see day in and day out."

At private practices, like Dr. Cyril Wolf's office, the symptoms and questions haven't stopped coming.

"The phones don't stop and patients are waiting," said Wolf said.

Officials said 85,000-100,000 doses of the vaccine have entered the Houston area, most of which will be going to private clinics. It is in high demand which means the supply is still low.

Dr. Wolf has ordered 1,100 doses, but hasn't gotten any.

"We're just waiting for the stuff to come," Wolf said.

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they distribute the vaccine directly to health departments and doctors who have requested it, but the state ultimately decides based on population and the number of high-risk patients and health care workers in the area.

It's important to note most cases of the virus are mild and, while you may not be able to get it now, health officials are confident there will be enough for everyone in the next few weeks.

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