New Holton Wellness Clinic expects H1N1 vaccine soon

By Lisa Marie Albert

UNC Staff Writer

the Durham VOICE

For the second time in one day, Raleigh resident Sam Alqadi, 39, visited the new Holton Wellness Center at 401 N. Driver St., located in the old Holton Middle School building.


 Sam Alqadi, 39, visits the new Holton Wellness Center at 401 N. Driver St., located in the old Holton Middle School building.  (Photo by Lisa Marie Albert)

Earlier that day Alqadi brought his 7-year-old nephew to get treatment for flu-like symptoms. Alqadi was told that his nephew may have swine flu, the H1N1 flu virus. Alqadi’s second visit today was for his own routine physical. Alqadi said he plans to get vaccinated for the flu and recommends to “clean your hands at every chance.”

Durham resident Corliss Gallaway, the clinic coordinator for four Lincoln Community Health Center clinics, said that many residents in the area are still unaware that the Holton Wellness Clinic exists, but that the administrators are working on getting a sign posted outside, which will let residents know the clinic is open for patient visits.

Alqadi’s recommendation to clean your hands is in agreement with Durham County Health Department’s guidelines for flu prevention, which as listed on their Web site are:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. No tissue handy? Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hand.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
  • If you get sick, stay at home for 24 hours after your fever has gone away without taking fever reducing medicine.

As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccinations for the novel influenza Type A H1N1 virus will begin shipping to U.S. locations beginning in mid-October.  The seasonal flu vaccine, which is currently available to the public, “will not provide protection against 2009 H1N1 flu”, according to CDCs Web site.

It is important to consider getting both vaccinations; the CDC states that the 2009 H1N1 vaccine is intended to be used along-side the seasonal flu vaccine, not to replace it. Dr. Evelyn Schmidt, Durham, CEO of Lincoln Community Health Center, 1301 Fayetteville St., said “It is important that people get a routine flu vaccine.”

There are many locations in Durham that are offering both seasonal and novel H1N1 flu vaccines, but for individuals who are uninsured or earning wages near poverty level, it can be difficult to cover the cost of doctor’s visits and vaccines for the entire family. Several health clinics in the Durham area, including the Lincoln and Holton clinic, offer medical services on a sliding scale to patients living at or below the federal poverty level.

As soon as the mid-October H1N1 vaccines arrive, Lincoln Community Health Center will be offering that vaccine for free, said Veronica Chetti, assistant director of nursing and employee health and infection control nurse.  The cost of the seasonal flu vaccine will be on a sliding scale costing from as little as $3 to $15 depending on the family income. Pneumococcal vaccine is offered as well, costing as little as $4 to as much as $20.

Schmidt noted that newly uninsured people, due to job loss in this weak economy, do not know how to find and negotiate public services that are available to them.

“With the recent recession, I have seen people who have lost their insurance coming in,” she said. Building on President Obama’s Main Street vs. Wall Street theory, she expressed, “It bothers me when people on TV say that the recession is over. Well, it is over on Wall Street, not over on Main Street.”

Gallaway mentioned that families that still have difficulty accessing and paying for health care can be referred to LATCH, a Duke Division of Community Health program that “works to improve enrollees’ health, improve their access to care, and increase their appropriate use of health services through a combination of bilingual outreach, care management, health education, service enhancement, and systems change”, as stated on their Web site.  Applications can be made within any of the health clinics.