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Health officials expanding eligibility for next round of H1N1 clinics

SNOHOMISH COUNTY — Health officials announced that they are expanding their "priority groups" in the hope of trying to get at least 12,000 residents vaccinated for the H1N1 virus on Saturday, Oct. 31.

Ten clinics will be offering free immunizations from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. or until officials run out of vaccine, said Suzanne Pate, spokeswoman for the Snohomish Health District.

The county initially vaccinated young children and pregnant women, which the county determined to be a priority group, during their Oct. 24 clinics, which took place at nine Snohomish County locations.

Health officials received 16,700 doses of the vaccine for the first round of clinics, but only used about 5,000.

For the Oct. 31 clinics, the health district expanded its initial group to include household and caregiver contacts of children younger than 6 months, persons aged 25-64 who have medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or lung disease, teachers and professional child care providers and health care and emergency workers.

Residents are being encouraged to show up early to the clinics and dress warm.

"People need to make sure they're prepared to wait," said Kelly Penny, Cascade Valley Hospital community relations director.

In addition to expanding the vaccine distribution list, Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health director of the Snohomish Health District, said in a statement that he recommends people showing flu symptoms refrain from visiting patients in area hospitals and health clinics.

He also said he recommends county schools to consider canceling or postponing extra curricular events that involve overnight stays in close quarters.

For more information on the clinics, or to see a list of clinic locations, visit snocoflu.com.

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