H1N1 vaccine readily available for North Texans

Tarrant County has a stockpile of thousands of H1N1 vaccine doses and hopes to use them on North Texans who haven't been vaccinated.

The county had about 31,800 doses Tuesday, county spokesman Marc Flake said. Tarrant County has given out 78,000 doses since October.

County health workers began administering the vaccine to residents at eight locations last year. Starting last week, they opened the sites to anyone in the area.

"We're going to give out vaccines as long as people want them and as long as we have them in stock," Flake said.

About 20,000 of the remaining doses are set to expire this month, Flake said. The rest will expire by June. The county has had leftover flu vaccine in past years as well.

The Texas Department of State Health Services shipped 132,266 H1N1 vaccine doses to Tarrant County Public Health out of 1.4 million provided statewide. Tarrant County Public Health Medical Director Sandra Parker noted that children 9 and younger are supposed to receive two doses.

"We know that residents in some of our surrounding counties did not have access to multiple events, and spring break is a good time for us to try to get them taken care of here in Tarrant County," Parker said.

Though cases of H1N1 or seasonal flu have started to subside, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are still advising people to get vaccinated because another wave of cases is possible.

"This particular strain has not reacted in any kind of predictable way even considering how unpredictable flu is," Flake said.

AMAN BATHEJA, 817-390-7695