Vaccinations for H1N1 and regular flu are currently available at the Grand Canyon's North Country Health Care center.
GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - Health officials at the Grand Canyon said they now have a sufficient supply of H1N1 vaccine, plus a limited supply of regular flu vaccines, which are now available to the general public. A flu clinic will be offered today at the Grand Canyon School for students. Another clinic will be provided at the North Country Health Care center from 3-7 p.m. Dean Norris, manager for the Grand Canyon Clinic, said a cancellation may be possible, however, due to this week's snowstorms.
"If that should happen, we're just going to reset the clinics for (the) next week," he said. "Should anybody show up here, I have more than sufficient in-house stock to handle anyone that comes through the door."
While he said he has plenty of H1N1 vaccines on hand, seasonal flu vaccines are being considered on a weekly availability basis.
"Here at the Canyon it's available without cost. If you have insurance, we'll bill it," Norris said. "If not, it's free to the individual."
A shortage of regular flu vaccines, as well as an initial H1N1 shortage, led to what Norris called a lull in the public's concern regarding flu vaccinations.
"What happened is a lot of people got vaccinated early on. I've read where there have been as much as 30 to 40 percent drops in vaccination levels and, as a result, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) is anticipating a second wave of H1N1 and seasonal flu to hit later in the winter - February to March," Norris said. "We're working with the Coconino County Health Department in putting together a series of flu clinics, where in fact they will have seasonal flu vaccine. They've just received some shipments, so seasonal flu vaccine and H1N1 is available. What we're fighting against is the complacency. It's kind of out of the headlines, so people are not thinking that it's as important as it is. Infection rates have remained steady through December and January. In mid-December, the CDC came out and said they've taken care of the high-risk population; we have sufficient supply, and open it up to anyone who wants it."
When it comes to the flu in northern Arizona, and in the Grand Canyon area in particular, Norris said it is always a good idea to consider vaccinations when working with a diverse group of people, which includes any job dealing with the public: school teachers, hotel workers, rangers and health care workers.
"We've been going to individual employers and informing them that this will be available," Norris said, adding that he thinks everyone should consider getting vaccinated.
"What people don't recognize is how easily transferable it is," Norris said. "The vast majority has just regular flu symptoms and I think that's maybe what's made people complacent. People with compromised immune systems or with general poor health can get in trouble pretty quickly. I tell people when they ask me, there's been an awful lot of concern about side effects and things like that, I think that they, although not unreal, are very minimal and not in any way, can be considered in whether to have it or not. Coconino County has a wonderful Web site called Stop the Spread, it gives details of all clinics, and they're going to be held throughout the year."