"It is not too late to get an H1N1 vaccination," said Joshua Meyerson, MD, Medical Director for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. "Flu season typically peaks early in March and it can last well into April. Vaccination is the best protection against the flu. All age groups are now eligible for H1N1 vaccination and vaccine supplies are plentiful. Everyone who wants an H1N1 vaccination can get it."
The Health Department will continue to offer appointments for free H1N1 vaccination; it is also available at many doctors' offices (physicians may charge a small administrative fee). In addition, public health nurses will be bringing H1N1 vaccination to places in the community where people work, live, and play.
"Many healthy adults let high risk groups get the vaccine first, early on when supplies were limited," said Meyerson. "We've vaccinated most of the pregnant women, children, and adults with underlying health conditions who wanted the vaccine. Now we're concentrating on reaching healthy adults, older adults, and adults who may have trouble getting to a doctor's office or health department clinic for a shot, like residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or adult foster care homes."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control opened H1N1 vaccination to healthy and older adults mid-December. Meyerson said the holidays interfered with many people's intention to get vaccinated.
The Health Department has contacted businesses with at least 50 employees and offered to bring an H1N1 vaccination clinic to the worksite for workers and their family and friends. Some worksites are also opening up the clinics to the community. Check the Health Department's website www.nwhealth.org for details.
The Health Department is also launching a mass media and community outreach campaign this week that includes print, radio, and television ads and public service announcements as well as less traditional promotion like movie theatre and restroom advertising.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information about H1N1 vaccination, contact your health care provider, visit www.nwhealth.org, or call the Health Department at 800-432-4121.