Finding help in Texas — 2-1-1

By PATSY GAINES Milam County Health Director
What is 211? 211 is a free, easy to remember phone number connecting callers with health and human services in their community.

When you dial 2-1-1, you will talk to a trained resource specialist who has access to comprehensive database listings of nearly all health and human services that exists in Texas. This includes but is not limited to: rent and utility assistance, food, emergency shelters, where to get employment help, medical and mental health assistance, help with transportation, and trained suicide intervention counseling.

You can also get information on affordable child care, information about caring for an aging relative, or help recovering from a disaster. Information and referral is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week throughout the year. Information can be provided in over 90 different languages.

When you call 2-1-1, you pick a language and then pick from 3 options:

Press 1 to learn about services in your area, such as

• Food • Housing • Child Care • After-school programs • Senior Services • Help after a disaster

• Tax help

Staff can talk with you anytime you call – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Press 2 to learn about state benefits, such as:

• SNAP food benefits ( used to be called food stamps)

• Medicaid

• Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

• Cash help for families (TANF)

Staff can talk with you Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Press 3 to report waste, fraud and abuse in state health and human services programs. Staff can talk with you Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You can also go the website of and this site contains comprehensive information about health and human services programs in Texas, which includes but is not limited to: Assistance for food, housing and shelter, education, legal, child care, emergencies, physical and mental health, financial assistance, transportation and state agency and program information.

2-1-1 Texas Information and Referral Network is working collaboratively with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to maintain a joint call center to respond to the H1N1 public health emergency. 2-1-1 TIRN is providing statewide, comprehensive information and referral services using the existing Area Information Centers (AICs) to respond to callers and to disseminate information to the general public in Texas regarding:

• Immunization clinic locations

• Emergency clinic locations

• General assistance to individuals seeking information on secondary issues such as unexpected reduction in work hours, child care and elder care information and changes in the normal flow of activities.

• Information about appropriate influenza-related behaviors, such as hand washing, staying home when ill, and etc.

• Information to assist DSHS in dispelling rumors regarding the H1N1 public health emergency and in promotion of available services.

So, please utilize the call center of 211 or the website, if you need assistance in any of the above information.

H1N1 vaccine

The Milam Count y Health Dept. has given over 2,000 H1N1 vaccines to date. Most people we vaccinated were eager to get the vaccine, while others were still unsure about the vaccine and had several questions and concerns.

Some of the most common concerns were:

With limited testing, how can it be safe?

The H1N1 vaccine is made using the same methods and by the same companies that make the seasonal flu vaccine. Flu vaccines are not tested each year unless there is a change in the way the vaccine is administered, for example Flu-Mist nasal spray. The main reason H1N1 was tested was to determine if one or two vaccines were necessary to provide immunity. The H1N1 vaccine has proven to be as safe and effective as the seasonal flu vaccine.

Will the vaccine give me the flu?

The H1N1 shot is an inactive virus and will not cause the flu. It may take from 10-14 days to get full immunity to the virus and you could possibly get sick with the flu during that time.

The Flu-Mist vaccine is a live, attenuated vaccine, meaning the virus is live but weakened so it will not make you sick with the flu. It provides immunity between 7-14 days.

Will the seasonal flu vaccine give me immunity?

The H1N1 vaccine and the seasonal f lu vaccine are made to protect against different viruses. There is no H1N1 in the seasonal vaccine. Both vaccines are necessary to protect against this year’s flu strains.

Currently, the Health Department has H1N1 vaccine for adults and children ages 6 months and up. We also still have seasonal flu vaccines for children 6 months to 18 years. Parents, please remember children under 10 need two doses of H1N1 one month apart to get full immunity.

Please contact the Health Department for more information at 254-697-7039 or visit www.

Milam County

Health Department • Local hours—Tues. & Thurs., 9 a.m.-noon & 1-4:30 p.m. • Phone—Rockdale office: 512-446-4026. Cameron office: 254-697-7039. • Web site: www.milamhealth. com.

Provides immunizations, TB tests, a well-child clinic, septic inspections, vision and hearing screenings, blood pressure checks, diabetes screening, STD tests, indigent health care applications, food handlers inspections.

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