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H1N1 Flu Vaccine Arrives in Contra Costa

October 7, 2009

William Walker, MD
Contra Costa Health Services

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See our H1N1 flu information.

The first doses of H1N1 vaccine have arrived in Contra Costa and we expect to start providing the vaccine to school-aged children at 49 elementary-schools within the next few weeks.

Hello, I am Dr. William Walker, the county health officer and director of Contra Costa Health Services. I'd like to talk to you about how and when the new vaccine for H1N1, also known as swine flu, will be available in our county.

The arrival of some of the vaccine is very good news. It is available earlier than expected. This is just the beginning of a long vaccination effort by health departments across the country. Over the next weeks and months, we will be receiving regular shipments of vaccine and it is expected that there will eventually be enough for everyone who wants to receive it. We appreciate your patience as we undertake this effort, and we urge everyone to receive the vaccine because it is the best protection against H1N1, which has made many people sick and been related to six deaths in our county.

Our first shipment of the vaccine is about 7,000 doses in nasal form so not everyone can receive it. Only healthy people between the ages of 2 and 49 can receive the nasal vaccine, and the state health department has made children a priority for receiving it. We already had regular seasonal flu clinics scheduled for October at 49 elementary schools so students at those schools also can receive these initial H1N1 doses. We know that children are more likely to get H1N1. By starting the vaccine process with school-aged children, we can help prevent the spread of H1N1 in our community and help protect everyone. We expect there to be more than 100,000 doses of the vaccine available in Contra Costa by the end of October and more later. As more vaccine becomes available, you will have different options on how to get it.

You can contact your health care provider to see if he or she will be providing the H1N1 vaccine. When available, vaccine will be distributed to doctors who have signed up to receive it. Vaccine also may be available at clinics in some pharmacies, grocery stores, and work sites in November or December.

As more vaccine arrives, we also will be offering it at our free community drive-through flu clinics in November, which are intended for people who cannot get seasonal or H1N1 vaccine from their own health care providers.

Everyone should get both the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines when they become available. The following groups of people should be especially sure to get the H1N1 vaccine: pregnant women, children and young adults ages 6 months to 24 years old, and adults ages 25 to 64 who have chronic health disorders such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma or compromised immune systems. Other groups that should get vaccinated for both seasonal and H1N1 flu are health care workers, emergency medical services personnel and those who care for young children under 6 months of age.

In the meanwhile, everyone can help protect themselves, their loved ones and their community by continuing to follow easy prevention tips by washing hands often, covering coughs and sneezes with your sleeve, and staying home from school or work if sick. To get the latest info on the H1N1 vaccine in both English and Spanish, visit our website at cchealth dot org or for information about health emergencies call 1-888-959-9911 or 211.

Thanks for listening.

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