Families line up for flu vaccines

With four children wearing St. Mary on the Hill Catholic School gear and a baby on the way, Melissa Johnson sat in the crowded lobby of the Richmond County Health Department on Tuesday waiting to get the shot against the novel influenza A H1N1 virus.


"We figured it was healthier to get it done," she said.

The shot distribution in Augusta comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that more than 30 million doses have been produced so far and the agency is hoping for a 10 million increase this week.

The Johnson family was among the 332 people who showed up to get the long-awaited shots in Augusta. Although there is no specific clinic planned today, the health department will give out the remainder of its 1,500 shots on a walk-in basis, Clinical Nursing Director Teresa Catlett said.

Many in line said they had heard concerns about the vaccine, but those concerns were outweighed by the threat of the virus itself.

"I just feel like it's the right thing to do," said Anna Remos, who had 2-year-old Lee in hand and 71/2-month-old Keira Marie in a car seat at her feet as she stood in line.

Michelle Jones was among the earliest in line at 7:20 a.m., more than an hour before the clinic was scheduled to begin. She got the shot before daughter Tianna and son Matthew had to line up.

"It doesn't hurt, baby," she told Matthew, 6. "Come on."

Matthew burst into tears afterward anyway.

"I'm proud of you," his mother told him. "You did good."

Stephanie and Trevor Richter, of Augusta, got the shot because 5-month-old Sebastian, sitting at their feet in a covered carrier, cannot.

"We want a barrier around him," Mr. Richter said.

Those in line reflected the priority group that the health department is targeting with its first 1,500 shots: pregnant women, caregivers of infants younger than 6 months of age, children and young adults ages 6 months to 24 years old, adults ages 25 to 64 with chronic health conditions such as diabetes or asthma, and health care workers.

As of Tuesday, 31.8 million doses against the new virus have been produced, up from 26.6 million Friday, with more expected later this week.

Georgia has been allocated 776,500 doses and has ordered nearly 700,000 doses so far, according to the state Division of Public Health.

South Carolina has been allocated 465,000 and has ordered 334,000, with the remainder to be ordered this week, said Jim Beasley, a spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden said supply is increasing, but "we know it's not nearly as much as we would have liked."

Even though it caused a tear to slip out of her left eye, 3-year-old Hannah Price sniffed up a nasal vaccine just like her mother, Sara.

"We did it," Hannah said triumphantly.

"We sure did," her mother said.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.


IN RICHMOND COUNTY: No specific clinic to give out shots against the novel influenza A H1N1 virus is planned, but the Richmond County Health Department (950 Laney-Walker Blvd.) will administer the vaccine on a walk-in basis today from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 3 p.m., said Emmitt Larry Walker, a spokesman for the East Central Health District. That likely will continue until all 1,500 are given out.

IN COLUMBIA COUNTY: Three H1N1 flu shot clinics are planned for Columbia County Health Department.

- 5-7 p.m. today at Harlem clinic, 5915 Euchee Creek Drive; (706) 556-3727

- 5-7 p.m. Thursday at Appling clinic, 6420 Pollards Pond Road; (706) 541-1318

- 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Evans Government Center Auditorium, Building A, 630 Ronald Reagan Drive

- 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Grovetown City Hall, 103 Old Wrightsboro Road