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County shifts swine flu plan

Santa Clarita not on the map for long-term H1N1 fight

Posted: December 1, 2009 10:12 p.m.
Updated: December 2, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
LOS ANGELES - Friday's swine flu vaccination clinic will likely be the only one in the Santa Clarita Valley as county officials announced Friday they were changing their approach to distributing the vaccine.

"I am not sure about (the county's) distribution process, but I guess we are not in line," said Cheryl Laymon, director of the Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers.

Samuel Dixon offers medical care for some of the Santa Clarita Valley's poorest residents from its Newhall, Canyon Country and Val Verde offices.

Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of the county's Department of Public Health, said the focus has shifted from large H1N1 vaccination clinics, such as the one scheduled Friday at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex, to providing the vaccine to private physicians and small clinics as the second wave of the virus has crested and is in decline.

County health officials didn't return phone calls or e-mails after Fielding's announcement during a telephone press conference held from the cities of Pasadena and Long Beach.

Laymon of the Samuel Dixon clinic said getting skipped over by a government agency is nothing new.

As the state budget contracted this summer and Laymon worried about whether the clinics could keep their doors open, Samuel Dixon was passed over for stimulus funds.

Laymon blamed federal standards on funding health clinics for allowing the stimulus funds to pass by Samuel Dixon because the SCV doesn't have a "ghetto."

Since the clinic serves the rural poor and the surrounding areas are solidly middle class, Samuel Dixon remains unqualified for lots of federal funding, including the stimulus money, Laymon said.

After Friday, those with the highest risk of contracting the virus would need to go to a private doctor or to one of the many county health clinics outside the SCV.

While Fielding noted the success of efforts to inoculate the county's most vulnerable residents, he said the swine flu still poses a risk.

"H1N1 pandemic flu remains a serious threat," he said. "There is a significant possibility of a third wave."

Since the first outbreak of H1N1 in the spring of 2009, 88 people have died from the virus in Los Angeles County.

A second wave of swine flu broke out this fall and peaked last month.

But even as the virus declines, many Los Angeles County residents continue to contract the disease.

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