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H1N1 vaccine expected in mid-October for Snohomish County

Local health officials expect an initial, small supply of H1N1 "swine flu" vaccine to arrive in Snohomish County within three weeks. The first shipment of up to 6,000 doses is designated to immunize health care workers and frontline emergency workers. Vaccine in subsequent shipments will be offered to people who are most at risk of complications from H1N1 illness.

Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health officer and director of the Snohomish Health District, said the county expects to receive up to 130,000 additional doses of H1N1 vaccine before the end of November. The nationwide distribution of vaccine is overseen by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Locally, it will be distributed through area pharmacies, doctors' offices and at least a dozen special mass immunization clinics in cities throughout the county.

There will be enough vaccine for everyone, but supplies will be limited at first. The CDC recommends the H1N1 vaccine for:

• Health care and emergency services workers.

• Pregnant women.

• Caregivers and household contacts of children younger than six months.

• People aged six months to 24 years.

• People aged 25-64 years with health conditions that put them at higher risk of complications from the flu.

Goldbaum said that the goal is to vaccinate 100,000 county residents by Thanksgiving. In the meantime, he urged people to cover their sneezes and coughs, wash their hands frequently and stay home when sick

"Go get the seasonal flu shot now," Goldbaum said. "There is plenty of seasonal flu vaccine available in the community."

Seasonal influenza strikes the elder population more severely than other age groups. H1N1 flu sickens people aged six months to 24 years. Some deaths occur every year from both types of flu, but most people recover within a week with no complications.

Find more information about seasonal and H1N1 flu at www.flu.gov,www.cdc.gov,www.doh.wa.gov and www.snocoflu.com.

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