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Clinic reports low turnout for swine flu vaccination session at fairgrounds

BROOKSVILLE — The county's first swine flu vaccine clinic didn't exactly cause a stampede.

Maxim Health Care Services went through only about 30 of the 500 doses of intranasal mist the company had on hand for the clinic that ran from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the county fairgrounds in Brooksville.

"They just kind of trickled in," Brian Eldredge, accounts manager of Maxim's Spring Hill office, said of the flow of people.

There are likely several reasons for the trickle.

For one, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set priority patient tiers for the first batches of vaccine, narrowing down the pool of potential recipients. And because the intranasal mist contains a live virus to develop immunity, it's only appropriate for people ages 2 to 49 in good health, health officials have said.

"It's got that word 'live' in it, so they think they're going to be full-blown sick," he said. "I think it may scare people off."

The injectable form of the vaccine contains an inactivated virus.

"I think you're going to see bigger numbers when we get the injectable," Eldredge said.

Maxim also charged a $10 administrative fee. The county health department will offer vaccines without a fee in the coming weeks, so people may be waiting for the freebies.

There may be a sizeable number of Hernando residents who don't plan to get the vaccine at all.

A poll by the Harvard School of Public Health conducted in mid-September found that just 40 percent of adults are "absolutely certain" they will get the vaccine for themselves, and 51 percent of parents are "absolutely certain" they will get the vaccine for their children.

About a third of respondents said they worry about side effects from the vaccine. Others said they don't worry about the flu and would treat it with medications if they get sick.

Hernando school officials have said the virus is likely to be in every school, and absentee rates have ticked up but are not skyrocketing. Hernando County has had two swine flu-related deaths, according to the health department.

The CDC says both forms of the vaccine are safe.

It's still to early to gauge the demand for the vaccine on a statewide basis, said Susan Smith, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health.

Smith couldn't confirm that all 67 counties have received a first batch of vaccines. She said the demand from county to county will vary on size and demographics.

Health officials encourage people to consult with their doctors to discuss the vaccine options based on personal health history, Smith said.

"Certainly, getting a vaccine is a personal decision, and we're not considering mandatory vaccinations," she said.

Kim Duffy of Weeki Wachee says she isn't sure if she and her 10-year-old son will get vaccinated.

"I'm leery about it because you never know what that strain will do," said Duffy, who volunteers at Pine Grove Elementary School in Spring Hill.

Duffy said she and her son are more likely to get the injectable vaccine over the nasal mist.

"If it comes down to protecting my child," she said, "I probably will (get the vaccine)."

Tony Marrero can be reached at tmarrero@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1431.



Inoculations

The Hernando County Health Department will offer the injectable swine flu vaccine free from 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday in the cafeteria of Nature Coast Technical High School in Brooksville. The 750 shots will be given first-come, first-served, with tickets distributed starting at 12:30 p.m. Priority will be given to pregnant women, caregivers and family of infants 6 months and younger, people 6 months to 24, people 25 to 64 with chronic medical conditions; and health care workers who provide direct patient care. For information, call (352) 540-6855.

Clinic reports low turnout for swine flu vaccination session at fairgrounds 10/21/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 10:50pm]
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