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H1N1 cases have probably peaked, L.A. County health officials say

Los Angeles County public health officials said Tuesday that H1N1 flu has probably peaked locally, but they cautioned that a third wave of flu outbreaks was still possible.

Dr. Takashi Wada, Pasadena’s public health director and health officer, said he was particularly concerned about the influx of visitors during the holidays and Rose Bowl.

“We’re encouraging everyone, not just local residents but visitors, to get the vaccine as soon as possible,” he said, adding that it takes a few weeks after inoculation to develop immunity to H1N1 flu.

Pasadena officials ordered 150,000 doses of vaccine but so far had received only 20,000, he said. Appeals to state officials for help have been unsuccessful, said Wada, who has turned to other cities and counties to get additional vaccine.

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As of this week, L.A. County had received 1.4 million doses of the vaccine, far less than what was expected to treat an estimated 5.5 million people in the groups considered most at risk of contracting the flu. Those priority groups include pregnant women, caregivers of infants under 6 months old, healthcare workers, those between 6 months and 24 years old and those age 25 to 64 with chronic health problems.

Countywide, a complete list of the dozen H1N1 clinics scheduled from Friday to Tuesday (the last planned) was posted Tuesday on the Department of Public Health website. Clinic sites include the Martin Luther King outpatient clinic, Long Beach City College, the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds and the Rose Bowl.

Local school districts have also planned clinics in coming weeks, including the Los Angeles Unified School District, although locations have not been announced, according to Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, the county’s public health director.

After the county vaccination clinics end, vaccination distribution will shift to private providers, Fielding said. There are no plans, however, to publicly list providers with the vaccine because of concerns that the information would be quickly outdated.

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Those at risk who do not have medical insurance or a doctor will still be able to get vaccinated at existing county clinics.

Overall, fewer positive flu tests and emergency room visits were reported in L.A. County during the most recent week available, Nov. 15 to 21, according to public health records. During the same week, there were seven flu outbreaks, five at elementary schools and two at high schools. Since the beginning of the pandemic in April, there have been 97 H1N1-related deaths countywide.

molly.hennessy-fiske @latimes.com


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