H1N1 vaccine available to general public in January

The following is a press release from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. It is dated December 30, 2009.

BATON ROUGE, LA – The 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine will be available to anyone in the general public starting Monday, January 4, 2010, State Health Officer Jimmy Guidry, M.D., announced today. The department has already alerted H1N1 vaccine providers statewide that they may begin offering H1N1 vaccinations to the general public after the New Year.

The vaccine has been available since October solely to specific target groups at highest risk for complications from the H1N1 flu, in accordance with guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To date, more than 272,000 doses of 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine have been administered across the state to children ages six months and older, pregnant women, young adults ages 18 to 24, non-elderly adults (under the age of 65) with chronic illnesses and front-line health care workers and others at higher risk of catching and spreading the H1N1 flu virus.  Even though the vaccine is now available to everyone, the department strongly encourages anyone in these initial target groups who has not been vaccinated to still do so.

"Vaccination is the best preventive tool we have to fight the flu, and we certainly encourage all residents to call their provider, make an appointment, and get their H1N1 flu vaccination," Dr. Guidry said. "Thousands of Louisianians in high-risk groups have already received the vaccine, and it has proven to be very safe and very effective."

Now, anyone interested in receiving the H1N1 vaccine may contact his or her healthcare provider, or any provider listed on the H1N1 flu shot locator at www.FightTheFluLA.com, to make an appointment to receive the vaccine.  The vaccine is available at no-cost from the Federal government, but a patient may be charged a small administrative fee for the office time used, which is usually around $20.  Most insurance companies have agreed to cover this fee, including Medicaid and Medicare.