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H1N1 flu shot clinic comes in out of the cold

Older St. Francois County residents had a chance for a free H1N1 flu virus vaccination Saturday at the Fairgrounds as the county’s heath department added to the list of eligible recipients people 25 to 64 who have chronic health problems.

“That would include people who have asthma, diabetes, a heart condition or a compromised immune system,” St. Francois County Assistant Health Director Debbie Hoehn said. “Others on the priority list are pregnant women, caregivers of infants 6 months and under, and children 6 months up to (adults) 24.”

There was no waiting in line outside as there had been at previous clinics because the weather was too cold, said Alan Wells, the county’s assistant emergency management person. People were steadily entering the exhibit hall at a pace that was easy to handle.

Members of three area food pantries were on hand to accept donations of canned goods from people coming in for vaccinations.

Saturday’s clinic was a chance for children ages 9 and younger to come back for the second shot. Children in that age group must have the second shot after four weeks. Saturday’s clinic was timed so that children in both of the previous clinics would be due for the second vaccination.

Beginning today, the Health Department will begin offering the free vaccine to people in the priority groups from 1-3 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. every Monday at the health center in Park Hills.

“We have plenty of vaccines,” she pointed out. “Although new cases are down, we expect a third wave, so it’s not too late to be vaccinated.”

A flu clinic will be held Wednesday at West County schools for children whose parents have signed consent forms. The health center hopes to have clinics in other school districts as well.

Thus far, the department has distributed or administered about 3,000 vaccines, including the ones sent to doctors’ offices, Hoehn said.

Health officials remind people to take precautionary measures  to prevent the spread of the virus, including covering your mouth when you cough, washing your hands frequently in warm water, using disinfectants, and avoiding sick people.

Avoid touching your eyes, hands or mouth, which spreads germs. The CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without having to use fever reducing medicine) except to get medical care or for other necessities.

Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at pbarr@dailyjournalonline.com.

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