County setting plans for future H1N1 clinics

Total of 30,000 now vaccinated in Alameda County program

After nearly 900 people turned out for H1N1 vaccinations at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, the county says the wheels are in motion for more clinics in January as the state dictates how much they can allocate.

Countywide, a total of 6,700 people received vaccinations at five clinics, including the one at the fairgorunds.

Vanessa Cordova, a spokeswoman for the Alameda County Public Health Department, said the county saw a higher percentage of children at the clinics.

"It appeared anecdotally that these children were seeking second doses, so they were between the ages of six months and 9 years old," she said, as children 9 and under require a second dose at least 21 days after the first shot.

A massive recall announced earlier on doses determined to be not strong enough wasn't a factor in the county vaccinations, Cordova added.

As the free vaccinations were targeted to go to higher-risk residents such as children, seniors, pregnant women and those with chronic health problems, Cordova said this most recent mass vaccination event was a success because the county was able to meet the demand. Part of the reason for that is because the county did more outreach to let the public know that the shots would go to the most vulnerable and to those who live in the county. Each county is allocated a supply based on a per capita formula by the state.

Including previous countywide clinics Nov. 7 and 14, the county estimates that nearly 30,000 people have been vaccinated and it does appear to be lowering the risk of the flu strain spreading, but that doesn't mean the county won't be proactive, Cordova said. It's estimated that there are 60,000 people who fall into the high risk category.

"Our eye is constantly on this ball," she said. "It's a disease that we have not seen before and we've already seen two waves and so we're going to continue to protect those at highest risk until something in current epidemiology suggests that's no longer necessary."

County health officials are in constant contact with the state over supply and the county is currently making plans to hold either more community-based clinics or one or more mass vaccination clinics.

San Mateo County recently announced it would be making the H1N1 vaccine available to pharmacies there and Sacramento has opened up their target population to the general public, something Cordova said Alameda County hopes to offer as more high-risk residents are vaccinated and demand decreases.

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