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SALT LAKE COUNTY -- The Salt Lake Valley Health Department says more than 16,000 children are overdue for the second of two doses of the H1N1 vaccine.
That number only accounts for kids who visited Salt Lake Valley clinics. The number statewide is likely much greater.
Health officials are hearing all kinds of excuses from parents. But they say the second dose of the vaccine is needed for children under the age of 10, not only to help prevent a third wave of the H1N1 virus, but to protect children against the primary flu season next fall.
The Salt Lake Valley Health Department says of the 23,500 doses of the first H1N1 vaccine given out at its clinics this past year, only about 29 percent of those who received it have come back for the second dose.
Of that group, 16,600 are children still needing it. According to health officials, kids are the most at risk of becoming sick.
"If your child is 9 and under, has only received one dose, they are not fully protected against H1N1," says Kristy Cottrell, nurse manager of South Main Public Health Center. "In fact, they're only at 25 percent of protection. So we really want to make sure they have the antibodies to fight disease if they're exposed to it."
If your child is 9 and under and has only received one dose, they are not fully protected against H1N1.
According to the Utah Department of Health's weekly H1N1 situational report for Feb. 17, the number of patients testing positive for the virus has been on a steady decline since its last peak on Jan. 8.
While that's good news, health officials say it isn't an excuse for Utah residents not to have their children get the second vaccine.
"Only a very small percentage of them are going to be protected by a single dose of the vaccine, so it's very important for them to get a second dose," says Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the deputy state epidemiologist. "We have certainly not ruled out the possibility of a third wave, particularly in certain groups, and children could be one of those groups."
The second doses of the H1N1 vaccine should be given at least a month after the first dose. However health officials say if it's been longer than that, it's not too late.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 80 percent of children nationally who got their first H1N1 shot never came back to get their second one.