With the number of deaths attributed to the H1N1 virus in Santa Barbara County climbing to six this week, the Public Health Department has scheduled two vaccination clinics open to all residents.

Earlier this week, a woman in her 50s succumbed to complications from the virus, according to public health. As has been the case with all local deaths, the woman had underlying medical conditions.

Santa Barbara County will hold two more community vaccination clinics this year: Monday at Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara and Wednesday at the Veterans Hall, 1745 Mission Drive, in Santa Ynez. Both clinics will take place from 3 to 7 p.m.

The clinics are open to everyone. The first-round community clinics specifically targeted high-risk groups that included pregnant women, children 6 months to 18 years, parents of infants and health care workers. Those limitations no longer exist. 

Increased production of vaccine has made it more readily available nationwide.

“We’re very pleased with the amount of vaccine we’ve received. We’ve been able to open up the community clinics to all residents,” said Susan Klein-Rothschild, public information officer for the Public Health Department.

County hospitals have seen 55 confirmed cases of the virus so far this season, with patients ranging in age from 12 days and 82 years.

In San Luis Obispo County, 38 people have been hospitalized by the virus, with one death, while statewide, 7,268 people have been hospitalized and 366 have died.

Nearly 94,000 doses of the vaccine have been distributed in Santa Barbara County so far, with the majority (60,830) being sent directly to private clinics and heath care providers.

County Public Health has received 33,120 doses with 7,820 being passed on to private providers. The county has vaccinated 2,810 Public Health Department clinic patients and 12,222 through its community vaccination clinics.

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The community health clinic scheduled next week in Santa Ynez is the last one of the year, Klein-Rothschild said. One final round of community clinics will be held in each of the county’s large cities in January. After that, the vaccine will be available through regular county immunization programs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been fewer reported cases of H1N1 over the past five weeks. In the final week of November, states reporting widespread flu activity decreased from 32 to 25.

California is one of the states that reported a decline in activity.

Despite the decline, health professionals are urging people to get vaccinated.

“We’re hopeful that decline will continue, but we don’t know that it will,” Klein-Rothschild said. “We are entering the time of our seasonal flu, so we have to be aware.”

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