According to the website www.flu.oregon.gov — the site to visit for the latest H1N1 information — as of November 6th, Oregon had received only 17% of the vaccines needed for its priority groups.
Those priority groups include: Everyone six months to 25 years of age, pregnant women, people living with or caring for infants under six months, people 25 to 64 with underlying medical conditions, and health care, emergency medial responders, and frontline law enforcement and public safety workers.
Since my 3-year-old son is on that list, getting him the H1N1 vaccine has been high on my list. About a month ago, I began calling his pediatrician’s office. I was told they didn’t have the H1N1 or regular flu vaccine and didn’t know if or when they would get it. I then called my county’s health department and found out about an H1N1 clinic for the priority groups, but the clinic was cancelled two days in a row. Finally, on the third day I called, the clinic was on. Owen and I drove to the health department and waited in line for about a half hour with dozens of other families with small children; a worker who said they had reached their quota for the day then turned us all away.
A few days later, I took Owen in for his regular check-up with the pediatrician. I was surprised and relieved to hear that on that day they had the H1N1 vaccine. A nurse administered the nasal mist version and we were on our way. What is the moral of this story? If you or someone you know, needs the H1N1 vaccine, keep checking with your doctor’s office and your county health department. Doses are arriving very, very slowly but more are expected. For the latest H1N1 and seasonal flu information, call the Oregon Public Health Flu Hotline at 1-800-978-3040 or visit www.flu.oregon.gov for links to information specific to your county.
Members of high-risk groups for the flu are urged to get both the H1N1 and the regular flu shot.
— Erika Weisensee is a writing mom. She teaches writing and communication courses at the University of Portland.