The Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District on Friday announced it received recommendations from the Texas Department of State Health Services to begin opening up the H1N1 flu vaccine to the general population as supply becomes available.

"We are very excited about the announcement because it means we will no longer be limiting who gets the vaccine as it becomes available," Interim Director Annette Rodriguez said.

The H1N1 vaccine intranasal spray form, however, will still be limited only to ages 2 to 49 following vaccine manufactures' recommendations.

"We do want the public to understand that we do not discriminate by age when it comes to the intranasal vaccine, we are simply following the vaccine safety guidelines," Rodriguez added.

William Burgin, Jr., Local Health Authority, advised residents that health experts are predicting a third wave of H1N1 flu activity sometime in Spring or Fall of 2010.

"Anyone who can get the H1N1 vaccine should go ahead and get vaccinated so they can already be protected when the third wave does hit," Burgin said.

Public Health District officials are expecting to receive a large H1N1 vaccine supply next month and begin mass immunizations events by the second week in January.

There have been nine H1N1 flu related deaths in Nueces County since the first H1N1 confirmed case was reported in May of 2009.

Burgin said residents must continue to stay informed and updated on the Health District's upcoming H1N1 vaccine clinics. He added residents can also check with their private physicians and local pharmacies that have ordered and will be receiving H1N1 vaccine.

Residents should also continue everyday prevention practices to prevent the spread of illnesses, which include:

Practice good hand washing hygiene. Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Stay home when you are sick to avoid spreading illness to others and seek medical attention. Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow or a tissue and properly dispose of used tissues. Get your flu shot this year, both the "seasonal flu" and the swine flu vaccines, when they become available.

For more information, call (361) 826-7200 or go to