LA County gives free H1N1 vaccinations to high-risk individuals; asks others to wait

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A young boy looks at a sign as he and his mother arrive to wait in line with several thousand other people at the Utah County Health Department to get H1N1 vaccine shots October 27, 2009 in Provo, Utah. After health department got a shipment of 4000 vaccines overnight, a large line formed with a wait of four to five hours.

Los Angeles County public health workers will be administering free swine flu vaccinations to high-risk individuals in Cerritos, Compton, and Pomona today.

Public health officials are making babies, children, and pregnant women their top priority. They've started turning away adults with no underlying health problems since countywide vaccinations started Friday.

About 8,000 people at four locations were vaccinated yesterday. Health officials decided to extend operating hours to 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. tonight.

"We're trying to accommodate people for whom coming during the day (is difficult), whether it's getting out of work or taking a child out of school," said Jonathan Fielding, the county's top doctor.

Here's a list of clinics open today:

-- Performing Arts Center, 12700 Center Court Drive South, Cerritos, from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.;
-- El Camino College, 1111 E. Artesia Blvd., Compton, from noon to 8 p.m.; and
-- Pomona Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona, from noon to 8 p.m.

A list of future locations and hours is available on the county health department's Web site or by calling the county's 211 information line.

So far, about 60,000 people have been vaccinated in Los Angeles County.

"Flu continues to increase in L.A. County and virtually all of it is ... H1N1," said Fielding. "The percentage of emergency room visits for flu-like illness continues to increase; the hospitalizations for flu-like illness as well. So, this continues to be a major, major issue. We're hopeful that the vaccine supply will increase, but at this point we don't know how much more we'll get even next week.

"So, it's a balancing act between trying to make sure that we can maintain all of our clinics that we've set up for, and hoping that we're going to get enough vaccine to service them."

Fielding said that, by the end of the week, about 2,600 private providers will have been supplied with a total of 271,000 doses. Manufacturers have delivered about 11 million of the expected 40 million doses expected to be available nationwide by now.

People 25 and above and those not caring for an infant younger than 6 months have been asked to defer vaccinations. An estimated 5.5 million Los Angeles County residents fall into priority categories established by the Centers for Disease Control.

Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to H1N1, with at least 28 dying nationwide from the virus.

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