The CDC has required that the H1N1 vaccinations be made available to the public based on priority groups of individuals who are expected to be most at risk. The following locations are expected to have the vaccine, but interested parties should call in advance to ensure availability:
Hall County Health Department, 1290 Shallowford Road, Gainesville, 770-531-5600
Jackson County Health Department, 341 General Jackson Dr., Jefferson, 706-367-5204
Riverside Pharmacy, 935 Green St., Gainesville, 770-532-6253
The following Walmart locations will also have H1N1 vaccinations on the specified days only:
Friday, 662 Ga. 75 South, Cleveland
Tuesday, 440 Atlanta Highway NW, Winder
Wednesday, 400 Shallowford Road, Gainesville
Wednesday, 156 Power Center Dr., Cumming
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that a vaccination for the H1N1 flu was available, many people became concerned that the new vaccine would cause major medical issues — specifically Guillain-Barré syndrome.
According to the CDC, it is a "rare disorder in which a person’s own immune system damages the nerves, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis."
The health organization heeded public concerns and has been monitoring the effects of the more than 5 million H1N1, or swine flu, vaccinations that have been shipped out to the public.
In a recent report, the CDC claims that "to date there are no indications of GBS-related problems with the 2009 H1N1 vaccine."
The syndrome was first linked to the swine flu vaccination in 1976, following an outbreak of that particular influenza strain. A few subsequent studies of the vaccination linked the inoculation to a slight diagnosis increase of Gullain Barré — an additional case per 100,000 people vaccinated, the CDC reported.
Regardless of whether or not a person has received the H1N1 vaccination, the CDC says that around 80 to 160 cases of Guillain-Barré occur every week in the United States.
The CDC has developed several tracking systems to monitor cases of the syndrome to determine if any are related to the H1N1 vaccinations. In the interim, shipments of the vaccine continue to be shipped out around the country and offered to priority groups that are determined to be at a higher risk as identified by the CDC.
Currently, both a nasal mist and an injectable version of the vaccine are available. The current priority groups include pregnant women, children and young adults from 6 months to 24 years old, health care personnel, infant caregivers and individuals from 25 to 64 years old with chronic medical conditions.
"Some states, where the amount of disease is low and the demand for vaccine is also low, have worked with the CDC to expand priority groups. That is not yet the case in Georgia," said David Westfall, District 2 Public Health director.
"The state health officer for Georgia is responsible for working with the CDC to decide when to expand priority groups and is the only person authorized to make that decision. Until that time, we ask for everyone to remain patient as we get these most vulnerable groups vaccinated."
In District 2, which has a 13 county service area, H1N1 vaccinations are available at the Hall County Health Department on Athens Street.
Independent retailers and medical care facilities have also begun receiving doses of the vaccine. Walmart stores in Georgia have now begun offering the H1N1 vaccinations and locally Riverside Pharmacy also has vaccines available.
Vaccinations through the public health department are free to the public, however the group says that administrative fees may be charged to Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance companies. The vaccinations at Walmart and Riverside are $15 at both locations, however some or all of the cost may be covered by patients’ private or public insurance carrier.