The H1N1 vaccine is now available to anyone who wants one in Missouri, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
MDHSS announced this earlier this month and said that daily shipments of the H1N1 vaccine has made the vaccine supplies more available. Daily shipments, coupled with rationing the vaccine to high-risk populations when a shortage was noticed, helped eventually make the drug available to all populations in the state.
"With 1.26 million doses of vaccine shipped to Missouri, we know that the people most at risk have had the opportunity to be vaccinated and many are now protected from the effects of the H1N1 flu," Margaret Donnelly, director of MDHSS, said. "The success of this targeted vaccination effort is now allowing us to extend the distribution of the vaccine to the general population."
MDHSS reported that in the first eight weeks of this year's flu season, physicians reported 26,307 cases of the flu in Missouri. During the same eight weeks in last year's flu season, they reported 56.
"Flu infections peaked in late October, when 6,283 cases were reported in a single week," according to MDHSS. "But health officials warned that flu tends to come in waves and flu season usually peaks in January and February. Therefore, health officials continue to urge people to get vaccinated now, particularly if they have an underlying health problem such as asthma or diabetes that puts them at risk for complications from the flu."
"We appreciate the patience shown by seniors and other adults that allowed us to get the vaccine to the people who needed the protection the most," Donnelly said. "Seniors make up less that 1 percent of the flu cases reported so far this year and we would like to keep that record intact. So now is the time for everyone to set up a time to get vaccinated against this very contagious flu bug."
The Oregon County Health Department started opening its doors to anyone who wished to have an H1N1 vaccine on Nov. 18 with a mass flu clinic before MDHSS made the statewide announcement. The flu mist and the shots are still available.
Clinic hours at the Alton office are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Thayer office.