• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Doctors still recommend swine flu vaccine

February 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Since the beginning of the H1N1 pandemic in April, the L.A. County Department of Public Health says that 352 people have been admitted to the ICU, and 133 have died.And while you may think the threat of the swine flu is over, it's not. That's why public health officials are hoping more people will get the H1N1 vaccine.

The Pasadena Department of Public Health gives out free H1N1 flu shots every day, but Monday, both of their clinics were practically empty.

Now that the long lines are over and doctor's offices have plenty of supplies, it's pretty hard to convince people to get one.

Jessica Correos says she's only getting the swine flu shot because her nursing school requires it. Otherwise, she said she is not sure if she would have gotten it.

"It's a very unpredictable situation. We could see another rise in cases, and so we do want to be prepared," said Dr. Takashi Wada, Pasadena's director of public health.

Wada said he's got several thousand doses of the vaccine. And even though it's February, health officials say the H1N1 virus can linger until summer like it did last year and people should be immunized before the next wave hits.

"If people wait until the next outbreak, by the time they get the vaccine, they won't be protected for another two, three weeks, so it'll be too late," said Wada.

Now that there's a huge supply of the H1N1 vaccine, the CDC would like everyone to get a shot. However, the target groups remain high priority, and those include pregnant women, children, caregivers of infants and people with compromised immune systems.

More people in certain communities are avoiding the shot. Vaccination rates among Latinos and African Americans continue to be very low.

"There have been so many vaccines administered throughout the country, and we see essentially no side effects. So, there is no reason not to get vaccinated," said Wada.

"It's always better just to get it, just to protect yourself and it's better to protect yourself and prevent it than getting sick and wishing you got it," said Correos.

One thing health officials are thankful for is the H1N1 strain does not appear to have mutated.

Wada credits the vaccine program plus better hygiene for the dwindling rates, but he emphasizes that it's still possible we'll see a lot more cases.