Your chance to get the swine flu shot

    It may be easier to get the H1N1 vaccine now.

    For months, health officials have urged everyone to get a H1N1 vaccine, but due to shortages those most at risk were first in line. Now, that shortages have eased the vaccine is being made available to the general population.

    Listen: [audio:091216tevax.mp3]

    This week Pennsylvania and New Jersey asked health care providers to offer the H1N1 vaccine to anyone who wants it, as long patients at greatest risk for flu complications have been immunized.

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    Dr. Susan Walsh is deputy commissioner of the New Jersey health department. Vaccine supplies and restrictions vary from location to location, so Walsh says residents should log on to the health department’s Find-A-Flu shot locator before visiting a clinic.

    Walsh: The restrictions at those general population centers will be more like our usual seasonal flu clinics, such that, there may be a restriction to residents only, so as you know for the targeted populations we’re telling everyone to go wherever they can go to get a shot.

    A spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania health department says the number of H1N1 cases has dropped dramatically in recent weeks, but officials are expecting a third spike before the flu season is over.

    Before now, vaccines were being given those with a high risk for severe flu complications. Those groups included pregnant women and people with chronic health problems.

    The vaccine is the most effective way to avoid the flu, still Walsh says:

    Walsh: Please, especially in these holiday seasons don’t forget the general public health rules that will also keep you well. Wash your hands often, cover your cough and sneezes and please stay home if you are sick.

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