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H1N1 shots now open to all

The Centers for Disease Control reports that flu activity continued to decline in the most recent reporting period, which ended Dec. 19, with the number of states reporting widespread flu activity decreasing from 11 to 7.

Despite the good news, flu activity is expected to continue for months, caused by either the H1N1 virus or regular seasonal flu viruses.

Vaccine supplies for the H1N1 are now more readily available, and many places, including the local health department, have upend up vaccination to anyone who wants it.

The Covington County Health Department will administer H1N1 shots during normal working hours, from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., except on New Years Day.

There is no cost for the vaccine, but Medicare and Medicaid patients are asked to bring their cards with them.

Previously, the vaccine was restricted to those in priority groups at the greatest risk of complications from the disease. Alabama has recorded its 17th consecutive week of widespread influenza activity, and virtually all influenza has been confirmed as H1N1.

“Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from this potentially serious disease,” said Dr. Donald Williamson, state health officer. “That vaccine is now available at all county health departments; all health care providers who have requested it have been sent some portion of their orders.”