RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
The swine flu hasn't spread as much as many had feared, but it is still lurking and many people across the country still haven't been vaccinated. Here in California, a novel approach to reach one particularly vulnerable population - Latinos. Kelley Weiss has our report.
KELLEY WEISS: Unidentified Woman: Okay. You're going to receive a shot in your left arm. Keep your arm nice and relaxed.
WEISS: Yoshio Moncada of Bakersfield got his flu shot along with his wife and three little girls.
YOSHIO MONCADA: There was actually two reasons why we showed up today. For the shin guards and the flu shot.
WEISS: Moncada says he needed the shin guards for his soccer game and he finally got around to getting his H1N1 vaccine. He says even though he has health insurance, finding time to get off work and get his whole family to the doctor was hard. And if the shots weren't here at the swap meet, would Moncada and his family get vaccinated?
MONCADA: To be honest, no. I would just (unintelligible) just like I've been doing ever since it came up.
WEISS: A nurse with the Kern County Public Health Department, Nona Goossen, says bringing the shots to the swap meet is really making a difference.
NONA GOOSSEN: It's helping a lot. We're using up a lot more vaccine than we would have if we just had them coming into our clinics, because people don't think it's flu season right now.
WEISS: Goossen says they vaccinated up to 1,000 people at the swap meet on a recent Sunday. And public health experts say the more people vaccinated, the better.
GIL CHAVEZ: We believe that we are not yet out of the woods in terms of the risk for H1N1.
WEISS: That's Dr. Gil Chavez with the California Department of Public Health. He says H1N1 rates are currently low. But to keep the virus at bay, it's important to bring vaccines to vulnerable populations. In California, he says, Latinos are twice as likely to be hospitalized or die from swine flu.
CHAVEZ: If you can find a location where you get a large segment of the Latino community and you can offer them vaccine in a way that it's not threatening safe, I think it's a very good thing to do.
WEISS: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still encouraging anyone who hasn't had the shot to get one. Dr. Anne Schuchat is with the CDC. She says swine flu activity could pick up again. Last year at this time scientists saw the swine flu outbreak take off. Now, Schuchat says, Georgia and a few other states in the Southeast are reporting an uptick in H1N1 cases.
ANNE SCHUCHAT: We may see situations like what we're seeing in Georgia, where ongoing vaccination could be very beneficial. So what we're really asking is for this vaccine to continue to be used.
WEISS: For NPR News, I'm Kelley Weiss.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.