Some county Web sites lacking in clinic informationby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Public H1N1 flu vaccine clinics are happening in most counties throughout the state this week, but it might be easier for the public to get information about the clinics in some counties than others.
In a search of county and multi-county public health agency Web sites in Minnesota, MPR found only about 20 Web sites that had detailed information about when and where H1N1 flu vaccine clinics were being held.
The Minnesota Department of Health has detailed information on its Web site about where to get the seasonal flu vaccine, but it doesn't list specific information about H1N1 flu vaccine clinics at schools and other public sites.
State health officials have decided for now to leave it up to the local health agencies to distribute the vaccine and inform people about it. The reason is because there's only enough vaccine for targeted groups of people, such as children age 9 and younger and pregnant women, health department spokesman Buddy Ferguson said.
"It's going to vary from one county to the next," Ferguson said. "Eventually we do plan to have a flu clinic locator for H1N1, but not until we have considerable more vaccine than we do right now."
Many counties -- including Hennepin, Ramsey and Dakota County -- have posted information about school flu clinics on their Web sites. But Anoka County, for instance, has decided to instead make parents aware of the vaccine clinics by sending information home with children who are eligible to get the vaccine.
"The supply that we received is for a specific age group," Anoka County spokeswoman Martha Weaver said. "If we were to put that information up on the Web site, no doubt there would be people who would overlook that and come and be very unhappy not to get it."
While Anoka County chose not to put information on its Web site, other counties with more limited resources haven't done it yet simply because they're overwhelmed with other things.
The public health agency that covers Lincoln, Lyon, Murray and Pipestone counties hopes to post information about school flu vaccine clinics on the county Web sites soon, said health educator and public information officer Jeff Moberg. For now, the counties are publicizing this week's school clinics through packets sent home with schoolchildren and through the local media, he said.
"It's going fine," Moberg said. "We're hitting the numbers we wanted to hit."
Any information given out about the vaccine clinics emphasizes that only certain groups are eligible to get it, Moberg said. "We don't want to have massive lines," he said.
List of counties that have detailed information about H1N1 flu vaccine clinics at schools and other public sites: