H1N1/Swine Flu vaccine arrives in South Mississippi

By Karen Abernathy - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - South Mississippi residents lined up for swine flu vaccines Monday, the first day WLOX knows of that it has been available on the coast. The vaccine's arrival comes just two days after President Barack Obama declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency.

Forty-six states now have active cases of H1N1. More than 1,000 people have died nationwide - including 100 children.  In Mississippi, 1,200 cases of swine flu have been reported and eight have died.

The Mississippi Department of Health in Jackson has received a limited number of vaccines, but we know of only one place in South Mississippi with the vaccine; the Urgi Care on Highway 49 in Orange Grove. Right now, they only have the nasal mist version, although they do expect to receive the injectable vaccine any day now.

Clinical nurse Nicole Peterson spent all day Monday giving the nasal mist swine flu vaccine to patients.

"I came to work with a parking lot full of people," Peterson said. "We vaccinated 45 people today, and it's been busy. A steady flow all day."

It's something many South Mississippians have been waiting for. Sherry Gibson said she wasn't going to miss the opportunity.

"I've already had the regular flu shot. And I work in the public, and wanted this one just to be safer," Gibson said.

Glenda Day wanted to make sure her 7-year-old grandson Jacob Day is protected.

"I do not want him to get the flu," Day said.

Jacob seemed pleased to be getting the mist rather than the shot, even though he'll have to have a follow up dose in one month. That's recommended for all kids under nine.

The nurse told him to sniff hard.

"It wasn't bad at all," Jacob said afterwards, smiling.

Giving the vaccine to kids is especially important to Peterson. She lost a close family member to the swine flu in August.

"I really suggest any teenagers, young kids, and anybody with health issues have it done so you don't end up with it," Peterson said.

That's why the Days are here today.  They hope to provide all the protection they possibly can for young Jacob.

"There are so many children who have died," Glenda Day said. "I would die if he would.  He's my little boy."

She hopes the vaccine will help her grandson safe throughout the flu season.

Because the nasal mist version of the vaccine is made with a live virus, the CDC only recommends it for healthy people between ages two and 49.  Officials say pregnant women, children under two, and anyone with respiratory issues or chronic medical conditions, should not have the nasal mist vaccine.

Again, the Urgi Care in Orange Grove expects to have the swine flu shot available any day now.

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