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L.A. County clinics to offer free swine flu vaccines

October 13, 2009 |  2:54 pm

Los Angeles County residents without health insurance or a personal doctor will be eligible for free H1N1 flu vaccines at county-sponsored clinics starting next Friday.

The county’s first shipment of H1N1 nasal spray vaccines arrived last week, and public health officials said they expect to receive further supplies every two weeks until at least December. The federal government is buying and distributing the vaccines to states in proportion to their populations.

This morning, the L.A. County Department of Public Health posted a list of 64 county clinics expected to open by Nov. 8.

“Residents all over the county who don’t have access to insurance or providers will have access to the vaccine,” said Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, the county’s director of public health. “We don’t expect a shortage.”

The county-sponsored clinics will be held at area parks, churches, schools and community centers, and will offer both H1N1 FluMist nasal spray and vaccines (including preservative-free versions) for adults and children, Fielding said. Residents can request which form of the vaccine they want, and will be vaccinated on a first-come, first-served basis, county staff said.

Fielding urged those at greatest risk for H1N1 flu to get vaccinated, including: those between 6 months to 24 years old; those between 25 to 64 years old with chronic health problems or compromised immune systems; pregnant women; healthcare and emergency workers and those who live with or care for infants less than 6 months old.

“When children get a shot or nasal spray, they are not only protecting themselves, but other children,” Fielding said.

Last week, public health officials reported 35 flu outbreaks in Los Angeles County, including 34 at schools and one at a nursing home, Fielding said. There have been 82 flu outbreaks countywide since Aug. 30, with 132 people admitted to intensive care units and 57 deaths, he said.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske