H1N1 Clinics Likely to Start in November
Health Officer said schools will host free clinics for students along with townwide clinics.
The Health Department is likely to start H1N1 vaccination clinics in November.
Health Officer Megan Avallone briefed the Westfield Town Council Tuesday night that the department, which serves eight towns in Union County including Summit, will be receiving the vaccine this fall. The department will be setting up clinics in each school in the eight towns, along with clinics for the public at-large.
"We will be able to go to every school in the eight towns," she said. "It is a massive vaccine campaign."
The campaigns will likely run until March, with each person being asked to receive the vaccine twice, which is what is recommended to combat the H1N1 virus. The clinics will be free and no student will be required to receive a shot in a school clinic. Avallone said students are free to see a primary care physician for the vaccine.
Avallone said her agency is in the process of hiring nurses to staff the clinics. As a part of the program, the clinics will need to document each vaccine given in real time. This is being required by the federal government in order to track that the vaccine is being given to high risk groups. High risk groups are defined as pregnant women, caregivers for children under six months old, those between six months and 24 years old and those 25 and over who have an underlying condition.
The health department will receive a set number of vaccines during the year and cannot pick and choose who receives the vaccines, nor can they save second vaccines for those receive the first. Avallone said theoretically the town could run out of the vaccine before second doses are given, a comment which was greeted with opposition by the Council.
"That doesn't make sense," Westfield Councilwoman Joann Neylan said, explaining that the federal government should provide enough vaccine for both of the recommended doses.
Avallone explained that based on the projections made by her department, it is unlikely that the health department will run out of vaccine before people receive the second doses.
Avallone also addressed concerns regarding the differences between H1N1 and seasonal flu. She said based on the information she has heard through health organizations the H1N1 virus is likely to not be as lethal as has been reported. She compared the two flus.
"Clinically speaking there is no difference between seasonal and H1N1," Avallone said.