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Local residents will have to travel for free immunization clinics

Enumclaw-area residents will have to travel a bit if they hope to take advantage of the four free H1N1 vaccine clinics offered Wednesday,Dec. 9.

Public Health – Seattle & King County is hosting the clinics as a way to provide access to people at highest risk for H1N1 influenza (swine flu) who cannot afford to pay. Future clinic dates will be scheduled as more vaccine becomes available.

More H1N1 influenza vaccine continues to arrive every week and most vaccine is still going to local health care providers for at-risk patients. Local pharmacies are also receiving limited ongoing allocations.

Early on, a clinic was tentatively planned for Enumclaw, but plans fell through when King County received just a fraction of its requested supply.

Fire Chief Joe Clow said he was disappointed by the early developments and isn't when enough vaccine will be available to host a clinic in Enumclaw.

“As more vaccine comes into the community, we’re continuing to allocate limited amounts to people without insurance or who can’t afford to pay,” said Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health – Seattle and King County. “We encourage people to seek H1N1 vaccine through their health care providers or through pharmacies if they can afford the administrative cost or if insurance covers it.”

An estimated 280,000 people in King County who are at high-risk for complications have already been vaccinated for H1N1 influenza and an additional 90,000 doses of vaccine is on the ground or in the process of being shipped to vaccine providers in the county. Though flu illness seems to have peaked locally, at least temporarily, H1N1 illness continues in the community, and vaccination is promoted as the best way to protect against H1N1 influenza.

The public vaccination clinics will be at the following locations from noon to 7 p.m.:

• Columbia Public Health Center, 4400 37th Ave S., Seattle;

• Renton Public Health Center, 3001 N.E. 4th St., Renton;

• North Public Health Center, 10501 Meridian Ave N., Seattle; and

• Federal Way Public Health Center, 33431 13th Place S., Federal Way.

There will be a total of 1,000 doses of vaccine available across the four sites. Vaccinations are first come, first served, and no reservations will be taken. If demand is high, people will be given a time later that day to return for a guaranteed vaccination. Once supply is exhausted, people will be told as soon as they arrive.

The ability to pay will be determined on the honor system and it will be assumed that people getting vaccinated at one of the four clinics cannot afford the administrative cost of H1N1 vaccination.

Most of the vaccine arriving to King County continues to be allocated to health care providers so that they can vaccinate patients who are most at risk, including: pregnant women; people who live with or care for children younger than six months of age; people between the ages of six months and 24 years old; people between 25 through 64 years of age with chronic health conditions or weakened immune systems; and healthcare and emergency workers.

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