NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Health has expanded H1N1 flu vaccine availability to the general public. Steadily increasing supply of the vaccine has enabled county health departments to allow anyone who wants to get vaccinated to do so. The vaccine is provided at no charge to patients.
“There are still many who have not had a chance to get vaccinated up until this point,” said Kelly L. Moore, MD, MPH, medical director of the state immunization program. “Although we continue to work to reach people in the target risk groups, it is now possible to begin providing vaccine to everyone who requests it. Public clinics are being scheduled every week as more vaccine becomes available and the department continues to distribute the vaccine supply efficiently to a wide array of health departments and private providers, including pharmacies.”
Even though the numbers of cases of H1N1 flu appear to be decreasing in Tennessee and nationwide, TDOH anticipates that H1N1 will continue to circulate and could even surge again over the next several months. TDOH continues to urge getting vaccinated as the best defense against the H1N1 and seasonal flu viruses. So far, Tennessee has received and distributed more than 1.6 million doses of H1N1 vaccine across the state. Vaccine will continue to be distributed throughout the flu season, which can last as late as April.
While initially H1N1 flu vaccine was reserved for those populations considered at particularly high risk of flu complications, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, influenza can cause severe illness in anyone. The vaccine can help prevent serious outcomes in people of all ages, and the Department of Health continues to strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Tennesseans are reminded that depending on the number of people coming to clinics, they could temporarily run out of vaccine. However, based on the amount of available vaccine and the expected supply continuing to arrive in the coming weeks, there will be enough vaccine for everyone.
Flu vaccine locations are listed on the Tennessee Department of Health Flu Shot Locator at http://health.state.tn.us/fluclinic/default.aspx. General information can also be provided by contacting the H1N1 Flu Information Line at 1-877-252-3432.