Kansas City, Mo. – Area health officials are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated against swine flu, despite the recent decline in cases.
Local community leaders and health officials rallied at the Kansas City Missouri Health Department yesterday to stress the importance of getting the H1N1 vaccine.
Margaret Donnelly, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, approached City Councilwoman Melba Curls about getting vaccinated right there at the event.
"We've got your paperwork ready," said Donnelly.
"Maybe," said Curls.
"It'd be good, it'd be good," said Donelly.
Curls ultimately agreed to it, as did Reverends Wallace Hartsfield and Eric Williams.
Dr. Rex Archer heads the Kansas City Missouri Health Department. He says people shouldn't wait until another H1N1 outbreak occurs to get vaccinated.
"It's like if a snow storm hits, your chances of going out and buying a shovel or salt and all that kind of stuff isn't really likely because when it hits, everybody's already run to the store and you can't get it," said Archer. "So, we need to get vaccinated now to protect people."
Dr. Archer also says with cases of swine flu down in recent weeks, local demand for the vaccine has not kept up with the region's now ample supply.
"It's almost an American way of life, that when you have a shortage you get more demand, and when you have plenty, that demand drops. So it's unfortunate," said Dr. Archer.
Donnelly, with the Missouri Department of Health, says flu season typically comes in waves and lasts through May. She says there's often a peak in January and February.
Already, she says, it's been an unusually tough season due to H1N1.
"There've been 28,000 cases of flu through the first week of January in Missouri compared to 350 at the same time last year," said Donnelly. "So the H1N1 flu virus is still here and it's not too late to get the vaccine."
Donnelly also says anyone - including seniors - who wants the H1N1 vaccine can now get it.
And she says there's no shortage in stock throughout the state. More than half of the 1.6 million doses that have been shipped to Missouri are still available.
Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.
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