The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department will offer free H1N1 flu vaccinations Oct. 31, specifically for children younger than 18 with chronic medical conditions.
Shots will be available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., or until vaccine runs out. The health department will announce the location next week. The site had to be changed after a scheduling conflict developed at the original location, Lafayette High School.
Children with chronic, underlying health conditions make up one of the highest-risk groups for H1N1 flu and complications, said Dr. Melinda Rowe, the health department commissioner.
"This group needs to be the first in line for the available H1N1 vaccine we currently have in stock," she said.
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A few thousand doses should be available and workers want to administer all of it, Rowe said.
Department officials decided to hold the clinic after receiving reports that large numbers of children in Fayette County have flu-like symptoms, she said.
"We've been talking with pediatricians' offices, emergency rooms and the hospitals, and they've been busy," Rowe said. "But some of the bigger pediatrician groups seem to be seeing hundreds of kids per day with flu-like illness."
Some at-risk youngsters are not able to take the H1N1 nasal mist vaccine. Rowe suggested that parents keep checking with their pediatricians' offices in case they have injectable H1N1 vaccine available before Oct. 31.
Dr. Kraig Humbaugh, the Kentucky state epidemiologist, said state health officials generally prefer that people stay within the counties they live in to get flu shots. But he said he could understand why some might choose to drive to other counties to get shots for their children.
"It's a tough situation," he said.
According to Fayette County health officials, chronic conditions that would qualify a child for the Oct. 31 clinic include, but are not limited to Type 1 diabetes, neurological disorders, and severe asthma that requires daily medication or the use of rescue inhalers more than twice a week.
Parents should call their family physician, or the health department, if they are unsure whether their children should get the vaccine.
Rowe said more flu-shot clinics are planned for November and December to target other priority groups: health care and emergency personnel; pregnant women; people 6 months to 24 years old; people who live with or care for children under 6 months old; and people ages 25-64 who have chronic health problems or compromised immunity.
Meanwhile, Rowe said parents can take the following precautions to help protect their children while they wait for the Oct. 31 clinic: frequent hand washing; covering coughs; avoiding large crowds; staying at home if sick; and regularly cleaning surfaces in the home where flu virus can persist. Simple soap and water and many common household cleansers can do the job, she said.