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Health care workers get H1N1 vaccine

Doses not yet available to county residents

Managing editor

As a way to impress the safety of one of two forms of the H1N1 vaccine — this one being a live, attenuated nasal spray — Marion County Health Department Director Diedre Serene received a dose Oct. 14.

Marion County Health Department has received a total of 200 doses of the nasal spray or active vaccine and 100 doses of the inactive injections.

Health care workers who provide direct patient care were first to receive the vaccine last week.

“It is not mandatory but highly recommended,” Serene said. “There will be some who will refuse to take it.”

St. Luke Hospital of Marion had signed up to receive the vaccine. Those doses were dispensed Thursday.

Serene said the health department would administer vaccines to Hillsboro Community Hospital employees next week.

Next on Serene’s list will be emergency medical services workers.

“By next week, clinics (doctor’s offices) will have some for their staff,” she said.

What about the general public? When can we get the vaccine?

“By the end of the year, everyone should have the opportunity to receive the vaccine,” Serene said.

However, people may not be able to choose which of the two vaccine types they receive.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has formulas for age groups and health conditions. For people who can take either form of vaccine — the nasal spray or shot — it will depend on which is available.

Also high on the priority list are pregnant women. However, that takes a specific formulation, Serene said, and the county has not yet received it.

“We’ll probably turn that over to health care providers to administer,” Serene said, particularly since the providers come into direct contact with the women on a regular basis.

There are five manufacturers that the CDC has selected to provide H1N1 vaccines to each state.

“The state then allocates the appropriate doses to the county, based on population,” Serene said.

Dosages are sent to the county health department in packages of 100. If providers want less than 100 doses, they need to go through the health department.

The county received a grant to pay for the H1N1 vaccines. There is no charge for those who receive the shots or vaccines through the county health department, Serene said.

School counts

On Tuesday, students in the Peabody-Burns school district had an opportunity to receive the live nasal spray vaccine. Health department officials will visit schools in Marion Tuesday and Hillsboro, Goessel, and Centre districts in the coming weeks.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported that two weeks ago 50 percent or more of elementary school and high school students were absent. During that same time, 10 to 49 percent of middle school students were absent because of flu-like symptoms.

This week was looking better with fewer absences reported.

Seasonal flu vaccine

The county health department ran out of the season flu vaccine shot a couple of weeks ago. The department ordered 1,200 doses and only received 900.

Serene said her department should receive the additional doses by the end of November.

Seasonal flu vaccines are available at local doctors’ offices.

Last modified Oct. 22, 2009

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