Crowd is "calm and steady" as swine flu shots given at Health Dept.

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - State health departments across Mississippi began giving "swine flu" shots Monday morning.

The state has received  more than 200,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine. Those people in the "high risk" group are among the first to get the shots.

There have been 1,200 cases of swine flu in Mississippi and nine confirmed deaths. Individuals most "at risk" include young children, pregnant women and caregivers of infants.

Tina Branaman brought her two young children to the health department early Monday: 3-year-old Laura Anne and 1-year-old Leonard Jr.

"We're getting the swine flu shot," she said, holding the baby.

It is day one of the department administering the H1N1 vaccine.

"And then it's going to be mom's turn and brother's turn," said RN Deborah Ware, as she prepared to give young Laura her shot.

The Pass Christian mom said it's best for the children to be prepared.

"There was a lot of mixed information out there. So, we finally got the facts," she said.

In this initial phase of vaccinations, "high risk" groups get priority.

"Six months to four years. Pregnant women. And then those caregivers of children less than six months, who cannot get the vaccine. Those are the highest priorities. There are others, but those are the highest ones," said Dr. Bob Travnicek, with the state health department, "And we're asking everyone to hold off until we get those vaccinated. And the minute we have those, and we have some more vaccine, then we'll definitely notify everybody."

"Many people have anticipated it, been waiting for it, and it is now here," said Nurse Ware.

"It's just like getting the seasonal flu shot. Basically painless," she said. "Ours is in the form of a vaccine, we don't have the nasal form. Just come in, sign in, get your shot. It's absolutely free."

Nurse Ware describes the public response on day one as "calm and steady."  People are paying attention to the information about H1N1 and taking appropriate action.

"Protect myself if possible," said an elderly man from Gulfport, after getting his H1N1 shot. "I don't want any kind of flu, especially swine flu. It's dangerous."

We mentioned the top priority group for getting the shots includes: Young children, pregnant women and caregivers of infants.

And while those are the "highest priority" right now, others in the "at risk" category include people ages 25 to 65 with chronic health problems or compromised immune systems.

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