KCUR News
12:48 am
Thu November 12, 2009

H1N1 Vaccine Priority Group Expanded, KCMO To Hold Second Public Clinic Friday

Kansas City, MO – The region's public health officials have decided to expand H1N1 vaccine eligibility to more high-risk groups.

Joseph Connor is director of the Unified Public Health Department in Wyandotte County, and says the change is partly intended to get the vaccine out into the community quicker.

He says more and more of the vaccine is arriving in Wyandotte County, but many providers there have had trouble administering what they already have.

"Only 53% of the vaccine that's been made available has been given," Connor said. "And I believe that number is way too low."

Connor says expanding the priority group will help get the vaccine out faster, to more people.

Pregnant women, kids 6 months to 24 years of age, people who are younger than 64 with serious chronic health conditions, caregivers for children under 6 months of age, and health care workers are now able to get the vaccine.

Those who are older than 65 are not yet eligible. The Centers for Disease Control reports that age group is less likely to become infected with swine flu compared to other priority groups.

The change in eligibility applies to the entire metro area, but each jurisdiction is handling the actual distribution of the vaccine a little differently.

Residents of Wyandotte County who are eligible for the vaccine can get it at the health department on a walk-in basis or go through their providers. The department's also starting school-based clinics. The first one takes place on Friday in Bonner Springs.

Independence, Missouri is holding public clinics every Thursday afternoon.

Kansas City, Missouri is doing occasional public clinics, including this Friday morning, but the department's mainly focused on getting the vaccine out to the more than hundred local providers who've requested it.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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