As flu season approaches, the Barrow County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) is keeping a close eye on the spread of the H1N1 virus.
Though the H1N1 virus is now widespread in 21 states, the vaccine is not yet available to the public.
Kevin Wells of the Northeast Health District said public health agencies should learn over the next few weeks how much vaccine they will be allotted.
“While the state is figuring out how many doses we are going to get, we’re going to try to map out exactly where our locations [for vaccinations] will be,” he said.
Wells said one of the biggest issues facing his agency is that recipients of federal funds are not allowed to charge for the H1N1 vaccine. As a result, Wells expects health departments and other public clinics to experience very high demand once the vaccine is available.
“Once we know how much vaccine we are getting and, more critically, the time frame in which these vaccinations will go out, that is going to determine our approach,” he said.
Wells further advised that priorities for vaccine distribution have been updated.
Currently, pregnant women will be given top priority for vaccinations. Wells said children ages six months to 18 years of age will be next in line followed by first responders and essential government officials.
LEPC Director Jimmy Terrell said the Barrow County LEPC is prepared to assist in vaccine distribution efforts should the need arise. LEPC personnel would be available to help with paperwork and other administrative details.
Health officials advise people to get both the H1N1 vaccination and the seasonal flu vaccination this year.
In other business, the LEPC:
• approved the expenditure of $1,000 to provide a four to six hour management training class for local public safety officials.
• discussed the establishment of a training committee chair to help develop community programs.
The next meeting of the Barrow County LEPC will be held November 19.