After months of hearing about it, the H1N1 vaccine finally is available.
District 2 Public Health received its first shipment of 2,700 vaccines on Monday. The district includes Hall, Banks, Dawson, Forsyth, Habersham and White counties.
"The first shipment (that we received is) the nasal mist type of vaccine," said Dave Palmer, public information officer for District 2 Public Health.
Because it contains a live, weakened virus, the nasal vaccine only is available for healthy individuals who are between the ages of 2 to 49. Per directives issued by the CDC, this first round of vaccinations is only available for 2- to 4-year-olds.
"This first shipment only contained 2,700 vaccinations for our entire 13-county district," Palmer said.
"As we receive more vaccinations, we will expand the availability."
According to health officials, the first shipment of vaccinations is limited to 2- to 4-year-olds because young children are most at risk for "influenza-like-illness." Like the seasonal flu vaccines, children up to age 9 will require two doses of the H1N1 vaccine, with a month waiting period between the doses. Health officials advise against children receiving the H1N1 vaccine if they have a sensitivity to eggs, egg proteins, gelatin or who are on a treatment containing aspirin.
States were first able to place their orders for the vaccination last week. More than 1.3 million does of the vaccine were shipped
throughout the United States. According to the CDC, the number of vaccinations a state received was based on population counts.
"The injectable type of vaccine will be shipped later. We are not sure when we will receive it," Palmer said.
The vaccinations are available at area health departments.
Public health officials report that people cannot get the flu from the H1N1 vaccine, however, some patients may experience some side effects such as a runny nose, wheezing and fever, however the side effects are less severe than having the actual flu.
Mamie Coker, health services coordinator for Hall County schools, said the system is coordinating with District 2 to administer free H1N1 vaccines at middle and high schools in mid-November. Coker said all student vaccinations would require parent permission. It has not yet been determined if vaccinations will be offered to teachers.
Times staff writer Jessica Jordan contributed to this report.