H1N1 vaccine still only offered to select groups locally

Published 6:33 am Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Even though the Minnesota Department of Health made the H1N1 vaccine available to all ages, Mower County Public Health is going to continue targeting select groups.

Mower County Public Health will host a free flu shot clinic for school age children on Dec. 21 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the community room at Oak Park Mall.

In order to manage the number of anticipated vaccinations, Mower County Public Health is currently focusing efforts on school age children and not opening the clinic to all ages.

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After Jan. 1, clinics will be held every Friday from 1 to 4:30 p.m. for the general public. Anyone may attend these clinics.

Before then, people can contact Austin Medical Center or their regular health provider to seek an H1N1 vaccination.

On Tuesday, health officials recalled about 800,000 H1N1 flu shots because the vaccine had weakened.

However, Margene Gunderson, director of Mower County Community Health Services, said none of the recalled vaccine was used in Mower County.

The recall was not a safety concern. The recall was for pre-filled syringes manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur intended for young children, ages 6 months to nearly 3 years.

Health officials stressed that parents don’t need to do anything or to worry, and that the vaccine is still safe.

The issue is the vaccine’s strength. Tests done before the shots were shipped showed that the vaccines were strong enough. But tests done weeks later indicated the strength had fallen slightly below required levels. Why the potency dropped isn’t clear.