H1N1 vaccine available for more Columbia residents

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | 2:58 p.m. CST; updated 5:20 p.m. CST, Tuesday, November 17, 2009
A bottle of the H1N1 vaccine sits at the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services on October 28.

COLUMBIA – The H1N1 vaccine is now available free for healthy people ages 6 months to 24 years and people with a chronic medical condition ages 25 to 64 years.

The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services has made the vaccine available to people beyond the limited priority groups because it has “done a satisfactory job vaccinating those in the CDC-recommended narrow priority groups,” according to the health department Web site.

A clinic is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 18, at the Health Department on 1005 W. Worley in Columbia from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m.

This clinic is open to the following groups:

  • people ages 6 months to 24 years
  • those ages 25 to 64 years with chronic illnesses
  • health care or EMS workers who have not yet been vaccinated

The Health Department is expecting another shipment on Wednesday morning, so they do not know exactly how much vaccine they'll have. “We are confident that we will have enough, or we wouldn’t have scheduled the clinic,” Geni Alexander, spokeswoman for the Health Department, said.

No appointment is needed for the clinic; vaccines will be given on a first-come, first-served basis. While they have no way of knowing how many people will come, the department is expecting a large turnout.

“Tomorrow is the first time that anybody with a chronic illness under age 65 can get it,” Alexander said. “So when you look at it that way, we’re expecting a huge crowd.”

FluMist, the nasal version of the vaccine, will not be available. Everyone will get the injectable vaccine that contains the preservative thimerosal, according the Health Department Web site. The preservative-free vaccine is only available to children under 3 years old and to pregnant women.

On campus

MU students can get the vaccine during a clinic from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19 at Center Hall. This is open to students age 24 and under and those with chronic medical conditions, according to the MU Student Health Center Web site.

"This is not for faculty, only students," Pam Rowe, spokeswoman for the MU Student Health Center, said. "At this point, we're following the CDC guidelines."

Students who have signed up to be on an H1N1 waiting list will get first dibs on these vaccines and are being contacted by the Student Health Center. To be added to the list, students can visit the health center Web site and complete a form.

The health center has about 400 doses of the vaccine, Rowe said. Some of them will be set aside for students who have appointments. The health center is also contacting the first 100 students on the waiting list to make appointments.

The rest of the vaccine will be available at Thursday's clinic.

Rowe said the health center will be receiving small but frequent allotments of the H1N1 vaccine, so there will be more clinics after the Thanksgiving break.

"We will be able to vaccinate a lot of people," Rowe said. "We're excited we're going to be able to give out this quantity."

Students at Stephens College were able to get the H1N1 vaccine on Tuesday, Nov. 17. Health services at Stephens had 200 vaccines available to students during Tuesday's clinic.

"We are hoping to get more vaccines within the next week," said Erica Webster, a student working in Stephens' health center. "If we're able to get more, we'll advertise a clinic for our students."

Columbia College also held clinics on Tuesday with 300 vaccines made available to students only, according to Beth Frye, administrative assistant in campus life.

No other clinics are scheduled at this point. Columbia College serves a daytime, evening and online student population, so the vaccine is limited to enrolled students for now, Frye said.

Boone County residents should check the Health Department Web site, and students should check with their campus health centers for continued updates about H1N1 clinics.

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