Swine flu shots arrive in Southwest Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Swine flu shots arrive in Southwest Georgia

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Swine flu shots are finally here. Even though the number of H1N1 deaths has been going up, few south Georgians have gotten the swine flu mist vaccine. Health officials hope more people will get protected now.

The nasal spray vaccines are like gold in many parts of the United States. While people wait in lines for hours in other places, the local health department still has plenty of doses left.  Starting Wednesday they'll be giving out the shots for the first time.

"Just breathe in," said a Dougherty County Health Department nurse Monday afternoon. 7-year-old David Harper took instructions from the nurse like a champion.

"It's just a little stuff that goes up your nose," said David.

His younger brother Davian also took the instructions like a champ. "It was good," said 6-year-old Davian.

Things turned out good but their mother Chiquela Jackson-Price admits she had some reservations about bringing her kids to get H1N1 vaccinations because of fear. "Dying, just bad reactions," said Jackson-Price, "I want to protect my children."

Hearing about the recent deaths of nearly two-dozen children from swine flu changed her mind.  Her family joins a small number of people who have taken advantage of the nasal form of the vaccinations in the Southwest Georgia Public Health District.

"We do have a good bit of the nasal mist still available," said Southwest District Deputy Director Brenda Greene.

The district received 2,967 nasal doses in early October. As of late last week, they'd only given out about 1,100 of them. "We hear stories about people still having concerns about safety," said Greene.

It's a different picture across the United States. In California Monday, people lined up in droves for vaccinations. Greene says South Georgians should take advantage of them here.

"We're certainly encouraging it and expect that it will be a safe vaccine," said Greene. And beginning this week, people will have another way to protect themselves. The district has received 2,500 doses of the injectable vaccines.

"Now that we have the injectable, it's just another option," said Greene. Whether it was through the nose or the arm, Jackson-Price is thankful she finally made that trip to the health department.

"Oh I'm happy now. Now they can go to school and be alright," said Jackson-Price.

Her son is also happy and has a message to other kids who may be a little scared. "I would say don't be scared because it will not hurt you. It's just going to make you feel better," said David.

Health leaders hope more people get that message and protect against the flu that continues to spread.

Just like the nasal form of the vaccine, there is a priority group for the injectable form. Right now the shots are reserved for pregnant women, people who live with or take care of children younger than 6 months, health care personnel, people ages 6 months through 24 and people between 25 and 64 who have underlying health issues.

The health department will begin giving those injectable vaccines bright and early Wednesday morning at 8. If there are still shots available Thursday, clinics will have extended hours until 7:30 in the evening.

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