By Karen Garlochkgarloch@charlotteobserver.com
While H1N1 flu is on the decline, the vaccine to prevent it is now available in numerous locations. Health officials predict swine flu will make a comeback in the coming months.
The Mecklenburg County Health Department is offering free vaccinations in the Eastland Mall parking lot Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Appointments can be made at 704-432-5100 or www.meckhealth.org, but walk-ins are also welcome.
A heated tent will be on site for those awaiting vaccinations. As an added attraction, the public can also visit Carolinas MED-1, a mobile hospital operated by Carolinas Medical Center that has responded to disaster areas such as the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
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As part of a nationwide initiative to improve vaccination rates against the H1N1 virus, retail pharmacy chains and medical clinics across North Carolina are now able to order H1N1 vaccine directly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the end of January.
To participate, chains must be capable of ordering an initial minimum of 100,000 doses of vaccine at one time and delivering all doses of vaccine received to vaccination administration sites within two days after receipt of vaccine.
The supplemental retail initiative is in addition to the vaccine doses allocated to states based on their population. North Carolina is expected to receive up to two million more doses of vaccine before the end of January.
Call your pharmacy to find out if it has the vaccine and whether appointments are required.
Rite Aid: www.riteaid.com/H1N1.
Some locations will charge a fee to administer the vaccine, but many insurance plans cover that cost.
Most customers with Medicare will have no co-pay.
Some locations also still have the seasonal flu vaccine and the pneumococcal vaccine against pneumonia.