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Since You Asked: High-risk patients are first in line for vaccine

I have called all of the large pharmacies in Medford as well as the two hospitals. They all said they will NOT be providing H1N1 flu vaccinations this year. They all provide "regular" flu vaccinations, but not H1N1. Since I don't have a regular doctor, where can I go to get the H1N1 vaccine?

I assume the Jackson County Health Department will be doing it, but my experience in the past with them has been hours-long waits. Thank you for your help.

— Bill F., Medford

We wish we could give you a simple answer, but with H1N1 nothing is simple.

Right now the H1N1 vaccine is available in extremely limited quantities, and it's being administered only to people who are particularly vulnerable to the virus. Unless you're in one of the groups listed here, you're going to have to wait a while:

  • Everyone aged 6 months to 24 years
  • Pregnant women
  • People caring for or living with infants under 6 months of age
  • People aged 25-64 with underlying medical conditions (such as asthma, immune deficiencies, etc.)
  • Health care workers, emergency medical responders and frontline law enforcement and public safety workers

The locations where the vaccine is or will be available are listed at the Jackson County Web site, which you can reach through www.mailtribune.com/h1n1vaccine. Jackson County public health officials plan to update the list as more vaccine becomes available and is distributed to additional sites.

Jackson County's three hospitals are not providing the vaccine to anyone outside of their staffs. The county health department has a limited amount of vaccine — the amount changes daily — and, as noted above, is providing it only to people in the higher risk categories.

Public health officials and local hospitals say they are being overwhelmed with calls from people seeking information about the H1N1 influenza virus. They ask that rather than call them, you use the Web site or call the state influenza hotline at 1-800-978-3040.

Eventually, everybody who wants to be immunized should be able to, but the wait may be longer than you'd like. In the meantime, protect yourself by washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with dirty hands.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com.